The Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat continue the NBA Finals Wednesday, with Game 3 from the Kaseya Center in Miami set for 8:30 p.m. ET. Both teams have a win in this series, and will look to take a crucial 2-1 lead in tonight’s contest.
Nikola Jokic ($22,800) - Jokic continues to be a walking triple-double in these playoffs as he’s averaging 30.4 ppg, 12.9 rpg, and 10.1 apg. Coming off a 41-point outing in Game 2, it’s clear the Nuggets need his all-around skillset on full display in order to avoid falling into a 2-1 hole. He’s an automatic captain for this series, even with the high price point.
Jimmy Butler ($18,000) - It’s clear that Miami’s postseason run is having an impact on Butler’s efficiency, as he’s averaging just 20 ppg over his last five contests on 38% shooting. But, with a monumental opportunity ahead of him to put the Heat up 2-1, don’t be shocked to see one of the vintage Butler scoring performances on display in Game 3. Back him as a captain for Game 3.
Gabe Vincent ($5,600) - Unlike his counterparts in Max Strus and Caleb Martin, who struggled mightily in Game 1, Vincent has averaged 21 ppg on 57.7% shooting from the floor and 56.3% shooting from deep during the first two games of the Finals. There should be no reason for him not to string together another good performance with the series shifting to South Beach.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($5,400) - Caldwell-Pope is averaging 1.9 made threes per game this postseason and in the Nuggets’ last two road playoff games in the Western Conference Finals, he chipped in with seven made three-pointers across two games (3.5 per contest). It’s clear Denver will need him to step up with this series heading on the road. Look for KCP to bounce back after a rough Game 2 outing.
Michael Porter Jr. ($7,400) - Porter Jr. is coming off a poor five-point performance on 2-8 shooting from the floor (1-6 from three) in Denver’s Game 2 loss. While he’s shot a solid 43.7% from deep on the road throughout his career, the NBA Finals pose a different challenge, and I’m not entirely sold yet on his ability to bounce back on the road.
Caleb Martin ($6,600) - After a rough Game 1 performance from the forward (3 points, 1-7 shooting), Erik Spoelstra made a calculated change by adding Kevin Love to the starting lineup for interior defense, which relegated Martin to the bench. The move clearly paid dividends for Miami as the Heat tied the series, but Martin’s stat line was still quiet (21 minutes, 3 points, 1-3 FG).
As long as Love continues to log big minutes as a starter, there’s a chance that Martin’s role and productivity take a huge hit.
Miami has proven capable of defending homecourt as the Heat are 6-3 overall in these playoffs at home. However, they are riding a two-game losing streak at home with back-to-back losses to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. Additionally, the Nuggets have not fallen down 2-1 in a series so far this postseason, and their only back-to-back losses came by way of the Phoenix Suns.
Game 3 will once again be a tightly contested affair and the Heat will not go down easy, but I expect Denver to make the correct adjustments. With Jokic reverting back to his playmaker role, the Nuggets will get enough contributions from Murray and the supporting cast to edge out Miami.
Final score: Nuggets 110, Heat 108