The introduction of Nikola Jokic to the national audience during this playoff run is a bit of an oxymoron, given that the man has two MVPs and five All-NBA selections in the last five seasons. He continues to post absurd stat lines game after game, like the 32 points, 21 rebounds, and 10 assists he racked up in Game 3. The only two players other than Jokic, who’s done it twice in the last month, to meet or exceed those totals in the postseason are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain.
Jokic looks poised to lead the Nuggets to their first title and cement his legacy with a ring this year, and DraftKings has Denver favored heavily at -800 odds.
Miami will need to summit Jokic Mountain to beat seemingly insurmountable odds for a third time this postseason. They have lived and died by the three-pointer, shooting 41% in 13 playoff wins and 35% in eight losses, including 32% in the two losses to Denver in the Finals.
Our props plays have cooled off after an incredible conference final round, and our record through Game 3 stands at 3-5-1. Gabe Vincent had a pedestrian seven points on Wednesday and joined Max Strus among our losing plays in Denver’s decisive victory on Miami’s home floor.
The Nuggets are favored by 3.5 points in the Heat’s building, and the total is set at 210.5, the lowest of the series so far. Our prop card for tonight’s Game 4 is next.
Jokic has grabbed ten or more rebounds in each game of the NBA Finals, including that 21-board outburst in Game 3 that elevated his rebounding average to 14 per game in the series.
His minutes have crept up in each game, up to 44 on Wednesday, and both teams only got one off day in between their tussles this week. That’s the shortest break on the schedule during the NBA Finals, and rebounding is a lot of work. Jokic does as good a job as anyone looking exhausted while still pouring in buckets and grabbing rebounds, but we wouldn’t be surprised if he dropped back to the 10 or 11 rebounding total he secured in Games 1-2.
Butler attempted six free throws in Game 3 after a combined five attempts in the first two games in Denver. He’s made 10 of 11 in the Finals, an increase from his 81% playoff average, and he’s raised his number of free throw attempts in each subsequent matchup with the Nuggets.
Butler has gained a reputation for battling through injury and fatigue in multiple Heat playoff runs over the last four seasons. We’ll ride with him at home in a Game 4 that feels like a must-win for Miami.
Murray has continued to be the sidekick that Jokic needs to put Denver in the driver’s seat for a championship. He’s averaging 26 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 10 assists per game on 51% shooting and 38% from three. After the historic performance the duo had in Game 3, where they became the first teammates to post 30-point triple-doubles in the same playoff game, Murray is playing his best basketball at the perfect time.