NBA Finals Betting Guide

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We had to wait an extra week for the NBA Finals matchup to be set. But after nearly blowing a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat finally got it done. They easily beat the Celtics in Game 7, 103-84, and now face the Denver Nuggets for the NBA championship.

On Thursday, the series tips off in Denver after what will be nine days of rest for the Nuggets. Miami played three extra games, nearly let a trip to the Finals slip away, and have just enough time to collect themselves before they play another No. 1 seed in the Nuggets.

Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets has two MVP awards. Jimmy Butler of the Heat has been an NBA All-Star six times. But the one thing that defines the hierarchy of NBA superstars, an NBA championship, has eluded both men.

For one of these great players, that is about to change.

Single Game Bets

The most common bet that will be placed this week is the single game bet. The majority of the action is a bet against the spread, on the moneyline, or on the over/under for each individual game played.

For Game 1 in Denver on Thursday night, has the Nuggets favored by seven points. The over/under on the game is set at 218.5.

Since Miami began its first round series with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Heat are 13-5 against the spread. Denver is 9-6 against the spread this postseason. In head-to-head play this season, the Nuggets and Heat played twice, and Denver won both games and covered the spread in both.

Series Bets

Instead of betting on the outcome of each individual game, or in addition to placing those wagers, many bettors will bet on the overall outcome of the series. has the Nuggets as the heavy favorite to win their first NBA championship, paying -350 on a Nuggets series win. The Heat are paying +275 to cap off their incredible run to the NBA Finals by winning the series and their fourth NBA title.

A No. 8 seed has never won the NBA Finals. The only team to win the Finals as a seed lower than fourth was the Houston Rockets in 1995, as the sixth seed.

If the Nuggets are going to win, as they are favored to do, you can also bet on the exact final score of the series. Your options are 4-0, 4-1, 4-2, and 4-3. You can also bet each of those same scores with the Heat coming out on top, and you would get the biggest payday if Miami wins the series in a sweep. A Miami 4-0 NBA Finals win is paying +4000. 

You can also wager on a series spread, which is handled just like a point spread. The opening spread is 1.5 games, meaning that a bet on the Nuggets to win has to be six games (4-2) or fewer. If the series were to go to seven games, the +1.5 games you get for the Heat would be an automatic win, regardless of what happened in Game 7.

Another popular series wager is on the over/under of total games played. The early line is set at 5.5 games played, with the over paying -145. If the series goes five games or fewer, the payout is +120.

NBA Finals MVP

The most popular of the proposition bets is on which player will win the NBA Finals MVP. The series opening odds have Jokic as the heavy favorite.

Nikola Jokic (-300)

Jimmy Butler (+350)

Jamal Murray (+1200)

Bam Adebayo (+4000)

Caleb Martin (+5000)

Jokic has already set the NBA record for most triple-doubles in a single postseason with eight. Add a couple of more to his tally in the NBA Finals, and it would be hard to see someone else winning from the Nuggets. Jamal Murray is averaging 27.7 points this postseason and is the only other realistic option for Denver.

Butler is, of course, the engine that makes the Heat go. But if you watched the Eastern Conference Finals, you have to be impressed with Caleb Martin. He had four games in the regular season of 20 or more points, and he has matched that with four 20-plus point games in the playoffs. He had 26 points in Game 7 against the Celtics.

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