Asking to see someone’s betting log is a bit like asking to page through her diary—or her transaction detail report in Mint.

So when my boss (cough, writer of cough) suggested that I contribute a guide to betting on the NBA Finals to our feature package on the subject, I deflected like the Joker at a presser. (Confession: I put money on sharpshooting Michael Porter Jr. to sink threes on two occasions during the Western Conference Semis. He went two for nine and zero for four from behind the arc, and I lost a hundred bucks.) But here’s the thing: When your supervisor gives you license to browse sportsbooks while on the clock, you revise any well-intentioned boundaries (unless you’re a referee or, like, Pete Rose) and get to wagering.

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Read on to find out where I’m putting my money for game one—and come back to see how I did and how I plan to adjust my game plan for each contest.

Game One Line Summary

Game One lines provided by BetMGM Colorado
Game one lines provided by BetMGM Colorado

Vegas expects Denver to win—so much so that it’s giving Miami an 8.5-point pad. And that’s justified: The Nuggets are legendary at home, going 34-7 at Ball Arena this season. In eight home games these playoffs, Denver is a perfect 8-0, with an average margin of victory of 15.8 points. Still, the Nuggets failed to clear that 8.5-point spread three of the eight times, including in their most recent matches against the Lakers.

But the Nuggets are well-rested and can score from all angles—I’m confident they’ll show out tonight. I’ll be betting on them to cover the spread—and I’m also taking the over, if you were wondering.

Game One Player Props

Nikola Jokić Over 13.5 Rebounds (+100)

Data provided by props.cash
Data provided by props.cash

The Nuggets coast into this contest on 10 days’ rest. The Heat last played on Monday and haven’t had a week-and-a-half-long break since October. A fresh (284-pound, mind you) Jokić should dominate a worn Miami squad that has very little depth at center.

On his home court in Denver, Jokić averages a whopping 18.4 rebounds per game when he plays more than 38 minutes. In these playoffs, he’s averaging 38.9 minutes—and game one is being played at Ball Arena. He’s also been dominant on the boards in the first game of every series with 14, 19, and 21 rebounds. I like those odds.

Alternatively: Jokić Over 50.5 Points + Rebounds + Assists (-110)
It seems outrageous to put money on someone to eclipse the half-century mark, but Mr. Triple Double is averaging 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 10.3 assists per game in these playoffs—or 53.5 PRA. If anything, betting this line will make the game more fun to watch as virtually any Jokić touch inches you closer to your quarry.

Michael Porter Jr. Over 2.5 Three-Pointers (-140)

Data provided by props.cash
Data provided by props.cash

It’s too tempting. Miami is objectively bad at covering small forwards, allowing the most three-pointers to them this season. Why? Well, they tend to send thumpers like 34-year-old Kevin Love or this guy to defend the arc—or abandon it altogether to double inside. Either way spells opportunities for the sprightly Porter Jr., who went five for—wait for it—13(!) from three-point range in the Nuggets’ last contest against the Heat.

Porter Jr. notched a .414 shooting percentage from long-range this season, and he’s sure to see gobs of good looks in this series. (He’s also hit this line in each of his last four games.) Count it.

Alternatively: Michael Porter Jr. Over 4.5 Three-Pointers (+350)
Jokić will likely be doubled inside, which could leave the six-foot-10 Porter Jr. blissfully alone or matched up with a guard in the corner. Moving the line from 2.5 to 4.5 treys would promise a delightful payout if the forward goes off.

Max Strus Over 9.5 Points (-110)

Data provided by props.cash
Data provided by props.cash

Consider this my brand of hedging. It’s likely that Miami scores at least a bucket or two—let’s say between 109.5 points (its average per game this season) and 113.5 points (its average versus Denver this season). Most of those points are likely to come from outside, because the Nuggets hold such a huge size advantage.

With Jimmy Butler likely doubled, look for the Heat to attack with shooting guard Max Strus. In two matches against Denver this season, he scored 23 and 19 points, respectively, and played more than 30 minutes both times. The sportsbooks are dogging him a bit after a putrid series against Boston, in which he averaged only 9.4 points per game, but expect him to bounce back. Another way in, if you prefer, would be taking Strus over 12.5 Points + Rebounds (-110), which he handily covered in both games against Denver this season (tallying 22 and 30 combined points and rebounds).

Alternatively: Jimmy Butler Over 1.5 Steals (-165)
This one is less fun as a Nuggets fan, but Butler has hit this line in all of his last nine playoffs games on the road. Also of note: Denver has allowed 7.5 steals per game in this postseason. And, if you’re going to back a player on the Heat, Butler seems like an OK choice.


Always gamble responsibly. Game One tips off tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Denver.