Nikola Jokic completed second within the NBA MVP voting this 12 months to Joel Embiid because the Nuggets heart fell quick in his bid to develop into solely the fourth participant in league historical past to win the award in three straight seasons.
However the “Joker” is poised to have the final snigger because the odds-on favourite to win the NBA Finals MVP and lead Denver to its first NBA title over Miami.
The Nuggets are -425 collection favorites over the Warmth (+325) on the Westgate SuperBook after opening at -360, and Jokic is the -360 favourite at Caesars Sportsbook to be named Finals MVP.
ESPN sports activities betting insider Doug Kezirian likes Denver to beat the Warmth however recommends a play on Jokic to win MVP slightly than lay the collection worth.
“I don’t suppose there’s a manner Denver wins with out Jokic getting MVP,” Kezirian stated.
The 6-foot-11-inch, 284-pound Jokic is averaging a triple-double within the playoffs with 29.9 factors, 13.3 rebounds and 10.3 assists per recreation.
An alternative choice Kezirian likes is the Nuggets -1½ within the collection recreation unfold, which suggests they have to win in six video games or fewer. That guess is -190 at Caesars and Circa Sports activities after opening as little as -160.
“I perceive the Warmth have overwhelmed two groups which might be on the identical stage as Denver in Milwaukee and Boston. However I simply suppose the Nuggets have an excessive amount of firepower,” he stated. “There’s no reply for Nikola Jokic, and the frontcourt of Miami is their weak level.
“I simply don’t know if Bam (Adebayo), (Cody) Zeller and Kevin Love are going to have the ability to cease their frontcourt.”
Westgate SuperBook NBA oddsmaker Jeff Sherman stated the e-book elevated the collection worth as the road on Thursday’s Recreation 1 rose from the Nuggets -8 to -9.
“We took some sharp play at -8½ on the Nuggets,” he stated. “The Nuggets have had a considerable period of time off, and so they’re going to be the more energizing staff.
“The Warmth have had a tricky street, and now they’re going into altitude in opposition to a staff that’s been rested. That’s normally a tricky spot in Recreation 1 there.”
Kezirian additionally likes Denver, which is 30-18-1 in opposition to the unfold at residence this season, to cowl in Recreation 1.
“I believe Denver pulls away within the second half,” he stated. “It’s a fast turnaround for Miami. I believe it will likely be robust for Miami to hold round.”
The Nuggets are 12-3 straight-up within the playoffs and 9-6 ATS, and Sherman additionally expects them to win the collection in comparatively simple trend. Within the precise collection end result prop on the SuperBook, Denver profitable in 5 video games is the +195 favourite.
“It’s a tall order for Miami. To me, the Lakers are higher than the Warmth staff, and Denver dispatched the Lakers in 4 video games,” Sherman stated. “I may see this factor going 4-1 and ending in 5. It wouldn’t shock me in any respect. I don’t suppose the Warmth have the firepower to persistently stick with Denver.
“Extra so than solely Denver’s offense, from a defensive standpoint, Jokic enjoying on the stage he’s will likely be too demanding on Miami’s protection, because it was on Denver’s earlier opponents.”
Jokic is a +120 favourite at Caesars to attain essentially the most factors within the NBA Finals. Jimmy Butler is the +160 second selection, and Jamal Murray is the +220 third decide, adopted by former UNR star Caleb Martin and Michael Porter Jr. at 35-1.
Butler is +350 on the SuperBook to win MVP, and Murray is 12-1.
Again to the futures
When the Westgate posted 2023 NBA title odds final summer time, a bettor wagered $10,000 on Miami at 14-1. The Warmth’s odds ranged from 60-1 to 100-1 for a lot of the season en path to incomes the eighth playoff seed.
The 2024 NBA championship odds already are up at sportsbooks, and the Nuggets and Celtics are 6-1 co-favorites on the Westgate, adopted by the Bucks (7-1), Suns (9-1) and Lakers (10-1). The 76ers are 14-1, and the Warriors, 76ers and Clippers are 16-1.
“We went a bit excessive on Golden State, and we’re getting some cash on them. I’ve seen 12-1 on the market, and we’re at 16-1. It looks like they’re attending to the tip of the street,” Sherman stated. “With all of the Lakers legal responsibility we had final 12 months and the way they obtained to the Western Convention Finals, I do know if we went to the 14-1 to 16-1 vary, we’d most likely be overwhelmed already.
“We anticipate them to probably make modifications with LeBron (James) threatening retirement. I believe it’s extra of a menace to the entrance workplace to be extra aggressive. He actually needs them to make a final stand.”
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comply with @tdewey33 on Twitter.