The NBA is back and in full swing as the teams have begun their seeding matchups. Five games will be up on the board throughout August 1. One of these games will be between the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets. Neither team has suited up yet and will look to set their pace in early. This game will tip off at around 1:00 PM Eastern time on ESPN.
Miami earned a record of 41-24 before the season came to a pause, which had them in fourth place of the Eastern Conference. The Heat are two and a half games behind the Boston Celtics for third place in the East. Miami also has a two game lead on the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers. The Heat will look to try and move up with a win in their first seeding game.
The Nuggets posted a record of 43-22 before the season halted, which helped them earn the third seed in the Western Conference. Denver is currently one game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the second seed. The Nuggets only have a one game lead on the Utah Jazz though, who are in fourth place of the West.
These two teams have already locked up a spot in this season’s round of sixteen, but will look to move up in the standings before the eight seeding games are over. Both teams are in movable spots, which makes every game matter. I expect these teams to come out a little slow with it being their first game back, but expect both teams to find a groove as the game goes along.
These two teams only met up one other time this season. The game was back on November 5 in Denver. Jimmy Butler earned 16 points and the Heat starters combined for 53 points, but it was not enough. Jamal Murray had 21 points. The Nuggets bench combined for another 48 points as Denver was able to pull away with a dominant 109-89 win over the Heat.
These two teams have not met much this season, which means neither team has a solid game plan for each other. The Heat finished out the season winning five of their last seven, while Denver had lost three of their last five. The biggest key to this game will be setting a comfortable pace early to try and get in a rhythm.
Field Goal Shooting
The Heat found quite a bit of success this season from the field. Miami was able to knock down 47 percent of their shots from the field, which was ninth best in the league. The Heat had the best three point percentage, making 38.3 percent of their shots from deep. Miami was eighth inside the arc, making around 53 percent of their shots.
Denver was able to make a solid 47.1 percent of their shots from the field this season, which was good for sixth best in the NBA. The Nuggets were not quite as good from deep this season, making around 35.8 percent of their shots. Denver played well inside the arc though, dropping down 52.9 percent of their shots in close.
These two teams made a very similar amount of their shots this season with the Nuggets being a more inside the paint team. Miami’s defense was better this season at holding teams to a lower shooting percentage. The Nuggets guard well inside the arc though, which could slow the Heat down from finding a rhythm to take their shots deeper.
Jimmy Butler had a solid first season with the Heat this year. He averaged around 20 points per game. Bam Adebayo averaged 16 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Goran Dragic was averaging around 16 points per game, while Kendrick Nunn averaged 15.5 points per game. Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro were both able to average around 13 points per game as well with the Heat.
Nikola Jokic was having another great season before the halt with the Nuggets. Jokic was averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists per game. Jamal Murray is averaging 19 points per game this season. Will Barton averaged 15 points per game, while Paul Millsap was averaging 12 points per game. Jerami Grant and Gary Harris have both averaged over 10 points per game this season as well.
These two teams have great depth, which has helped propel them to their current spot in the standings. The Nuggets have a bit more experience behind their players, while Miami has a lot of younger players stepping up. It will be interesting to see if the Heat players can step up to the plate as we hit the playoffs, or if they will falter a bit going into these higher intensity matchups.
These two teams have a lot of promise behind them going into this season’s playoffs. Saturday’s matchup will be big to see who can step up quicker and who is ready to go in their return. I expect a solid game until the end, which should lead to a great way to start the day of basketball. Both teams have some value in this matchup, but I like the value behind the Nuggets a bit more.
BetOnline has Denver listed as a -1 ½ against the spread at -115. The Nuggets should be favored in this game and I actually believe that this line is a bit low. Nikola Jokic is reportedly looking really good in camp and has lost some weight, which could make him even more dangerous. I like how Denver looked behind him in their exhibition game, making me want to back them in this one.