Sportsbooks are seeing huge action in the Nuggets; NBA Finals sharp, big stakes

No Steph Curry. No LeBron James. No Jayson Tatum or Giannis Antetokounmpo. A throwback Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics matchup.

Also, no problem, at least from a sportsbook's perspective on NBA Finals odds. After all, there's still two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic and his red-hot Denver Nuggets and Jimmy Butler and the continuing Cinderella story of the Miami Heat.

Kevin Lawler, head of trading at Pointsbet USA, and savvy NBA bettor Rick Camp help us navigate the NBA Finals odds market ahead of Thursday night's Game 1 in the Mile High City.

Let's break down what should be an eventful NBA Finals.

Usually the best

Some oddsmakers are right to note that a Heat-Nuggets championship series isn't going to produce nearly as much action as a Lakers-Celtics series. But with the proliferation of legal sports betting over the past five years, PointsBet has found that this is not a concern.

In fact, the company's US base is in Denver, and sports betting is legal and thriving in Colorado. So there is no shortage of interest in the Nuggets. And Miami running all the way to the NBA Finals as a No. 8 seed provides a compelling storyline.

“Nikola Jokic and Jimmy Butler, to some extent, have shined more than any of the (other big) names this postseason, so we don't see any dampeners,” Lawler said. “Both of those teams are popular, and the Nuggets especially in our home state. Ideally and selfishly, we'd probably prefer something like Nuggets-Sixers or Nuggets-Knicks, where our two teams face off in the states we operate in.

“But overall, we don't expect a drop in handles or trades. Giannis is gone from Round 1, and the trading metrics are great so far. Miami and Denver have been the best teams in the postseason. It's as simple as that. – The two best teams have made it to the showpiece. “

Nikola Jokić overtakes Jimmy Butler as favorite to win NBA Finals MVP

Nikola Jokić overtakes Jimmy Butler as favorite to win NBA Finals MVP

Nick Wright, Chris Broussard and Kevin Wilds preview Game 1 of the NBA Finals featuring the Miami Heat vs. the Denver Nuggets.

long journey

After Miami eliminated Boston in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Pointsbet opened NBA Finals Series odds at Nuggets -400/Hits +300. There has been little movement since then with Denver -400 and Miami +310 as of Wednesday afternoon.

But both teams have come a long way from where they started. Before the start of the 2022-23 season, the Heat were +1600 and the Nuggets +2000 odds to win the NBA Finals. Denver has been pretty solid all season en route to the No. 1 seed in the West and entered the playoffs at +800.

Miami, however, has a tough road trip. The Heat finished eighth in the East and had to go through two playoff games to get into the playoffs — a loss to Atlanta and a win over Chicago — with bettors getting Miami +5000 at PointsBet in January and +4000 at the start of the postseason.

Despite different paths and levels of success, both teams have seen plenty of attention on PointsBet.

“Nuggets have been popular since the beginning,” Lawler said. “Clients were backing them from the beginning of the season, through Christmas when they were on top of the West, and as a 1-seed in the playoffs. Especially in Colorado, clients wanted to bet on their home team.

“Similarly, clients believed in the Heat all the way through. They were one game from last year's finals, and despite finishing with a mediocre regular-season record (44-38) in the playoffs, they've been supported consistently all year.”

Miami swept No. 1 seed Milwaukee 4-1 in the first round. The Heat then defeated the Knicks in six games and the Celtics in seven to reach the Finals. Denver pinned Minnesota in five games, Phoenix in six, then LeBron and the Lakers 4-0.

Both teams are actually better for Pointsbet customers than the bookies in the NBA Finals. Miami has a smaller rate than Denver to book.

“Surprisingly, Boston was the best result for the pointsbet. But Miami blew that away in Game 7,” Lawler said. “Miami is a small loss early in the playoffs with a few tickets in the +4000 range.”

(Related: NBA Finals Predictions, Picks, Series Odds)

Sharp side

There are camp thoughts on NBA Finals betting, from series winners to alternate series markets to player props and, of course, who emerged as the NBA Finals MVP.

As to who claims the title:

“After winning three straight in Heat fashion, every analyst is making sure to give credit to Miami before picking Denver to win the title. That should be a sign because the Heat winning the championship would be a great statement, but the Nuggets have been impressive in the playoffs.

“Looking at the matchup, the room for error is huge for the Nuggets. Regardless of what lineup or rotation adjustments Erik Spoelstra makes, Denver has the answer and it's just a matter of picking your poison.”

Series/Alternative series odds:

“The market is strong on the Nuggets as the right favorites, and Denver -1.5 games is worth nothing. If someone is desperate to play for Denver, the right result is 4-1, Denver closes it out at home, but it's not something I'd personally play. .”

And to chase MVP:

“As Finals MVP, most of the time the best player on the winning team. I don't believe Jokic or Butler have value right now. If I had to take a long shot, it would be Aaron. Gordon +31000 (310/1) on FanDuel because Gordon Provides what Jokic can't: Great defense on Jimmy Butler if he shuts down Butler, scores close to 20 per game, and Denver's offensive numbers aren't great. Jokic will have insane stats, Gordon may have little chance of getting there. “

Camp said he doesn't believe Gordon can win the MVP — again, he admits it's a big long shot — but a play against what he sees as too long.

With all of the above duly noted, how does Camp see the NBA Finals playing out?

“I think the Nuggets win the series in five or six games, but a sweep would be more likely going into Game 7,” Camp said as Miami proved the NBA playoffs are unpredictable. “Can the Heat win Game 1 and make me — yet another person — look like a fool? Absolutely.”

If Florida can

Not to be outdone, the Stanley Cup Finals are also set, running roughly concurrently with the NBA Finals. The Florida Panthers face the Vegas Golden Knights for the right to lift Lord Stanley's Chalice.

There are significant similarities between the Panthers and their NBA neighbors the Miami Heat. Apparently, both teams are based in South Florida. Both entered their respective postseasons as the eighth and final seeds in the Eastern Conference.

Both beat the best regular-season teams in their respective leagues in the first round. The Panthers rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to upset the record-setting Boston Bruins 4-3. The Heat cruised to a 4-1 series win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

And now, both are in the Championship Series. So why does the Heat-Panthers not catch fire in the championship parlay of the two teams?

If you do that at PointsBet USA — parlaying the Heat to win it all with the Panthers — the odds are +740. So if you bet $100, the potential profit is $740.

I love Big Bet and I can't lie

In addition to the aforementioned ticket at +4000 to win the NBA Finals, Lawler noted that Pointsbet USA took a $4,000 bet on the Nuggets at +2000 earlier in the season. Should Denver finish the job, that customer will profit $80,000.

Lawler also said the Nuggets got a lot of tickets at +800 before the playoffs started. And again, the Nuggets are now -400 to win the NBA Finals.

Of course, many bettors don't want to lay -400, which means a $400 bet for a $100 profit. So if they like Nugget, they're looking at other markets. Caesars Sports notes that one customer is making it a quick series in Denver:

– $20,000 at Nuggets Sweep +600

– $10,000 at Nuggets sweep +550

– $40,000 at Nuggets sweep +525

If Denver beats Miami 4-0, that bet will net a hefty $385,000 on a $70,000 bet.

A customer at DraftKings sportsbook placed $100,000 on the Nuggets +900 to win the Finals for a potential profit of $900,000.

Obviously, for such bettors, this is exclusive money. So as always, when enjoying the NBA Finals, don't bet more than you can afford to lose.

Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and senior reporter for He is a prominent journalist in the national sports betting space. He is based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys golf in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas

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