NBA: Finals-Denver Nuggets at Miami Heat

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All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

Nuggets at Heat, 8:30 p.m. | TV: ABC

  • Key Trend: Jokic is averaging 56.7 PAR in the series and 54 PAR in the playoffs.
  • The Pick: Nikola Jokic Over 53.5 Points, Assists & Rebounds (-135)

We're forced to pivot a bit here. I have bet the over on Nikola Jokic's points and assists in the series' first three games, and it's cashed each time. The problem is I bet the prop when it was at 38.5, and that's no longer available. After Jokic posted 41, 45 and 42 in the first three games, they've raised the prop to 41.5 tonight. While I don't hate it, much of the value is gone, and it's much more of a coin flip.

Thankfully, they have not yet adjusted Joker's other props enough to erase the value of this bet. Not only has Jokic averaged 56.7 PAR in the series, but he's at 54 in the postseason. He's finished with at least 54 PAR in 11 of Denver's last 15 playoff games.

The most fundamental truth at work in this bet is that as good as Miami is at making adjustments, the Heat have no adjustment against Jokic. Bam Adebayo is terrific, but he cannot stop Jokic. Cody Zeller cannot stop Jokic. Kevin Love has been rendered nearly unplayable in the series and cannot stop Jokic. I've even seen the Heat put Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry on him sometimes, hoping to find something, but there's nothing to be found.

Jokic simply has the game of a complete point guard but in a giant body. He's shooting 59% in the series and getting to the free throw line over nine times per game, and he's made 85.7% of his free throws. There's genuinely nothing Miami can do to stop him that doesn't involve a tire iron, and frankly, I'm not convinced that would be enough.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: When it comes to traditional plays, the SportsLine Projection Model has a healthy lean on the total, and our experts have a plethora of props they're betting.

💰 The Picks

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🏀 More NBA Finals props

The Pick: Bam Adebayo Over 20.5 Points (-105) -- While Adebayo hasn't been able to do much on defense to stop Jokic, he's helped make up for it with his output on offense. He's averaging 23 points in the series and has scored at least 21 in every game. That includes a 22-point performance, despite a terrible shooting night (7/21) in Game 3, as he got to the free throw line 10 times.

I don't anticipate Bam getting to the line as often tonight, but the fact he's a good shooter there adds to my confidence he'll go over this total again. After all, his scoring prowess against Denver hasn't been limited to this series. Including the regular season, he's gone over this total in four of five games against the Nuggets and has scored at least 19 in every game. He's taken 20 shots per game in this series after averaging 13.8 shots per game in the first three rounds.

The Pick: Max Strus Over 2.5 Rebounds (-148) -- I love when they put this prop at 2.5 instead of 3.5 because it's been a reliable over for Strus at the 2.5 mark. He's gone over it in 10 of Miami's last 15 games and 14 of Miami's 21 playoff games. If we include the regular season, Strus has finished with at least three rebounds in 62 of the 103 games he's played this year. At home, it's 30 of 50 and six of the last seven.

Yes, he's had a few duds on the boards in that span, but so far in this series, it feels as if he's been tasked with taking on a bigger rebounding burden as Miami desperately tries to overcome the size disadvantage it faces against this Nuggets squad. With tonight's game being a must-win, I'm betting on that urgency paying off for us here.

⚽ Champions League Final

Manchester City vs. Inter Milan, Saturday, 3 p.m. | TV: CBS/Paramount+

The Pick: Manchester City (-230) -- As an Italian-American who loves Serie A, defends Serie A and wants to see Serie A flourish, believe me when I tell you I want Inter Milan to win. Even as a Napoli supporter. It would be a great thing for the league and a nice finish to a season that saw Napoli dominate and three Italian teams reach the finals of the European competitions.

While most aren't giving it a chance to, Inter can beat Man City. The Inter team we've seen the last couple of months has been a much better squad than the one we saw early in the year and is much more reminiscent of the team that won Serie A two seasons ago under Antonio Conte. Unfortunately, none of this matters. Serie A is better than people thought, and Inter is playing wonderful football, and it isn't likely to mean much for one simple reason.

Have you seen Manchester City?

It's the best club in the world. Look at what City has done to teams lately. Not only did it erase Arsenal's lead in the Premier League, beating it twice by a combined score of 7-1, but it's smacked nearly everybody put in front of it around. In 12 Champions League matches, it's outscored opponents 31-5, and it's not like it's played a bunch of nobodies. City outscored the Sevilla team that won the Europa League 7-1 over two matches. In the Round of 16, it beat Leipzig 8-1. Then it beat Bayern Munich 4-1 in the quarterfinals and followed it up by beating Real Madrid 5-1 in the semis!

These are the biggest clubs in the world, and City has swept them aside with ease. It's hard to imagine we'll see anything different in the final, no matter how badly I want to.