Heat Snag Home-Court Advantage, But Nuggets Still -275 NBA Title Favorite

All postseason long, there’s been money to be made for Miami believers
Jokic Adebayo NBA Finals

The Miami Heat did on Sunday night what no opponent of the Nuggets has done all postseason: They won a game in Denver.

While this was a new experience for the Nuggets, who were 9-0 at home in the playoffs entering Game 2 of the NBA Finals, winning a game like this wasn’t anything novel for the Heat. They’ve been underdogs of 7.5 points or more 10 times in 20 playoff games, they’ve scored 10 outright wins in this postseason as underdogs, and they’ve gone 14-6 against the spread in these playoffs.

Miami was a consensus 8-point ‘dog on Sunday, with a moneyline price ranging from +275 to +300, depending on the sportsbook. This is the kind of game the Heat just keep winning. The bookmakers price them like the 8-seed they are, and the Heat play like a 1-seed. In these playoffs, they’ve beaten the Eastern Conference’s first and second seeds and have now stolen home-court advantage from the top seed in the West.

And still the sportsbooks are unconvinced. With the finals knotted at 1-1 and three of the remaining five possible games in Miami, most books — including BetMGM, Barstool, and DraftKings — have the Nuggets -275 to win the series. FanDuel offers a slight variation at -270. The Heat are +220 to win the championship with most major operators, and a slightly juicier +225 at DraftKings.

Nobody knows whether Heat bettors will be rewarded from here on out. But to this point, consistently betting on Miami to win and/or cover has been a bankroll-building bonanza.

Heat underdogs 17 times, favorites in just four

In the opening playoff round against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Heat were underdogs of 8 or more points three times. They responded by winning outright all three times en route to bumping off the NBA’s best regular-season team in five games.

In the second round against the New York Knicks, the sportsbooks kept it more balanced, favoring the Knicks in all three games played in New York and the Heat in all three played in Miami. The Heat have only been favored in four of 20 playoff games so far (and it will become four of 21 if the Game 3 odds don’t change), and three of those four came in the Knicks series. They covered in two of the three road games against the Knicks and won one of them outright.

In the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics, Miami was getting 7.5 or more points in all four road games. The Heat covered in three of the four and won outright in three of the four.

But no matter how much playoff success the Heat are having, they keep finding themselves heavy underdogs on the road and small underdogs even on their home court. For Wednesday’s Game 3, as of Monday morning, Denver was favored by anywhere from 1 to 2.5 points, depending on the book. On the moneyline, the Heat are as high as +120 at PointsBet.

One other interesting market to consider for betting on the outcome of the series is the NBA Finals MVP. Nikola Jokic is the runaway favorite, with the most customer-friendly price being -250 at BetMGM. Through two games, Jokic is averaging 34 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 9 assists. Is there a world in which the Nuggets win the title and someone other than Jokic takes the Bill Russell trophy? It’s hard to envision, making -250 on Jokic perhaps a smarter wager than -270 on Denver.

On the opposite side, Jimmy Butler is the shortest money on the Heat, between +400 and +450. But Bam Adebayo, averaging 23.5 points and 11 rebounds so far, is lurking. He opened at +5500 to win Finals MVP and, as of Monday, was down to +500.

Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images


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