Insider Insight: SuperBook Sports Insider D-Mac says the heat is all on the Heat
June 9, 2023
Oh what a difference a game makes!
The vibe going into Game 2 of the NBA Finals compared to the one coming out of it was drastically different. The Denver Nuggets had won Game 1 convincingly, prompting the pundits to talk about the possibility of a clean sweep. But then the Heat went ahead and won Game 2, taking home court advantage, and swiftly altering the narrative. After all, this was a Heat team that had beaten the Celtics, in Boston, after nearly blowing a 3-0 series lead. Were they about to give the Nuggets the same sort of treatment?
Despite the sudden pressure after Game 2, Denver stormed into South Beach and thumped the Heat in Game 3, taking a 2-1 lead in the series and regaining home court advantage.
“What’s scary about the Nuggets is we haven’t seen their best shooting game yet, “says Darren McKee – aka “D-Mac” – of Denver Sports. “It only seems like a matter of time that Michael Porter Jr. and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope both break out of their slumps. If that’s the case, then the Nuggets will destroy the Heat. If not, it will stay relatively close but certainly the 3.5 points is a no-brainer.”
When a team get historical performances from its superstars – as in Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic becoming the first duo to ever reach two 30-point triple-doubles in the same game – that team generally goes on to do special things. The adjustments that worked for Miami in Game 2 seemingly stalled out in Game 3. There was no stopping Denver’s dynamic duo.
“Miami doesn’t have a whole lot of choices right now. There aren’t many other adjustments they can make,” say a McKee. “Denver has figured out their zone.
“Miami has to have a ‘fire-away mentality’ and that comes with massive risk. Perhaps they try and get Duncan Robinson going a bit more early in the game. But it comes down to if they can basically go 50 percent from three-point range. If that’s the case, they have a shot. But that’s about it.”
It looks as if the betting public is in agreement. The Nuggets are 3.5-point favorites heading into Game 4. They’re also +110 to close out the series in five games.
“I predict a massive blowout for the Nuggets – 128-102,” McKee says. “The outside shooting will improve massively as there is no reason for the team to be tight. All the pressure is on the Heat. The Heat were plus +90 in the fourth quarter in the playoffs and were -1 on Wednesday night. They just couldn’t get it going and the Nuggets figured out how to hold on to the lead. Dangerous combo.”
Friday Night Trio
Three bets worth considering when the weekend kicks off
Denver Nuggets at Miami Heat
Kaseya Center – Miami, FL
8:30 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Denver -3.5
For a moment, it looked like the Heat were going to do it again. The No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference had already pulled three upsets in the postseason, knocking off the Bucks, Knicks and Celtics. After winning Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Denver, the trend looked like it would continue.
The optimism lasted one game. And not even that long.
The Nuggets rode Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, two players who made history in Game 3 by both posting a triple-double, to a 109-94 victory. In the process, the regained homecourt advantage and re-established the fact that they’re clearly the better team in this series.
Miami is scrappy and gutty. That’s how they were able to upset the Nos. 1, 2 and 5 seeds in the East. But at some point, that’s not enough.
The Heat have no answer for Jokic, who became the first player in NBA history to have a 30-20-10 game in the Finals. They also have had issues with Murray, who had 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on Wednesday night.
But that’s not their only problem. Miami has also struggled to find any offense outside of Jimmy Butler and Bam Abedayo. Their lineup of plucky underdogs has been no-shows in Games 1 and 3.
To be fair, Denver’s supporting cast has struggled, too. Michael Porter Jr., Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown have all shot the ball poorly in the series. If they get going, playing at a level anywhere near where they did earlier in the playoffs, the Heat will have no chance.
The clock has struck midnight in Miami. The Cinderella season is over.
Denver wins Game 4. And they’ll end the series in five.
Jason Schlefsky’s pick: Denver M/L (-160)
Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays
Tropicana Field – St. Petersburg, FL
6:40 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Tampa Bay -178
Few people expected a matchup between the two best teams in baseball during the second weekend of June to feature these two teams. But here they are, the only clubs in Major League Baseball to have hit the 40-win plateau.
Tampa Bay has been the best team in the sport since day one. They jumped out to a 13-0 start and are now 46-19, putting them firmly atop the American League East.
Texas hasn’t been as flashy. But the Rangers are 40-21, sitting 5.0 games ahead of Houston in the AL Central.
This showdown between heavyweights gets off to a bit of a clunky start. The pitching matchup isn’t great.
The Rays send Tyler Glasnow to the mound. The righthander is 0-0 on the season, with a 3.72 ERA. He’s only had two starts, which have been decent. But he’s still pretty much an unknown.
The Rangers counter with Andrew Heaney. The lefty is 4-3 on the year, boasting a 4.03 ERA. That certainly isn’t dazzling.
A deeper dive, however, suggests that Texas has a clear advantage. The Rangers have won in each of Heaney’s last four starts. He’s given up just five earned runs across 22.0 innings during that stretch.
Combine that edge with the fact that the Rangers are a slightly better offensive team and this one leans toward the underdog. Look for Texas to get the first game of this very intriguing series.
Richard DeMala’s pick: Texas M/L (+150)
Vegas Golden Knights at Florida Panthers
FLA Live Arena – Sunrise, FL
8:00 PM ET (Sat)
SuperBook Line: Florida -120
As the saying goes, a series doesn’t start until the home team loses a game. By that axiom, the Stanley Cup Final is still up for grabs.
Vegas won the first two games, holding court at home. Florida matched them in Game 3, keeping things interesting.
The series is 2-1 in favor of the Golden Knights. That suggests that it’s a series that either team could win. It’s not.
Vegas dominated on their home ice. They won Game 1 by a 5-2 count. They took a 2-0 lead with a 7-2 victory. Neither game was close.
Florida stayed alive by winning 3-2 in overtime on Thursday night. The Panthers survived by the skin of their teeth.
Matthew Tkachuk tied the score with just 2:13 to play in the game, a goal that would ultimately force overtime. Then, the Panthers netted a win when Carter Verhaeghe found the back of the net.
Vegas had more shots on goal. The Knights won more faceoffs. They were better on the power play, scoring twice when they had the advantage of stopping all five of Florida’s extra-man situations.
But Florida won. And they’ve made the series interesting. For now.
Despite the loss, the Golden Knights showed that they’re the better team. They should be up 3-0. They aren’t leaving south Florida tied at 2-2.
Vegas win will Game 4, putting them in a position to win the Cup in front of their home fans. They’ll win on the road to take control of the series.
Norm LaChatlier’s pick: Vegas M/L (+104)