NBA Perfect 10-Finals Edition

The NBA has finally whittled the field to just two teams: the Denver Nuggets taking on the Miami Heat. Certainly, these were not popular picks at the start of the season nor at the start of the playoffs even but here we are. Let’s break down this matchup.


#8 Miami vs. #1 Denver: The Miami Heat arrive here in the Finals for the first time since the bubble season of 2020. They are just the second 8th seed to reach the NBA Finals in league history. The Heat took down top-seed Milwaukee in the opening round in five games, then eliminated the Knicks in six games before avoiding an epic collapse and beating the Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Heat have been led by, you may have heard this a time or one thousand by the TNT broadcast crew, Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and four undrafted players. Butler won the Larry Bird Conference Finals MVP award but the Heat would not be in the finals without the stellar play of Kenyon Martin, one of their undrafted Four. Martin averaged over 20 points per game in the conference finals and nearly double-digit rebounds.

Denver arrives in the NBA Finals as the #1 seed out of the Western Conference but one that played understudy to the likes of Phoenix, Golden State, and the Lakers entering the playoffs. In round one, the Nuggets dispatched Minnesota in four games, they followed that up by dispatching Phoenix in six games and then dominated the Lakers in a four-game sweep. Magic Johnson Conference Finals MVP Nikola Jokic is averaging a triple-double in the playoffs to lead the Nuggets but he’s also gotten significant help from Jamal Murray, who looks like the player that was dominant in the bubble in 2020 before a major knee injury set him back.

The Heat have thrived in the playoffs despite an undersized roster, several role players, and one of the best coaches in the NBA in Eric Spoelstra. They benefitted from a Milwaukee team that has a roster that needs a major overhaul, an overrated Knicks team, and finally, a Boston team that was far more talented but was vastly inferior in basketball IQ. In this series, however, the Heat will not have such an advantage. Denver head coach Mike Malone is one of the best coaches in the NBA and can match strategies with Spoelstra. The Nuggets have also surrounded Jokic and Murray with exceptional role players that can defend the Heat on the perimeter with the likes of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Bruce Brown and Jeff Green. Lastly, the Nuggets come in with the best player in basketball in Jokic. He will be able to deftly pick apart the Heat should they employ the zone that baffled the Celtics, utilize the pick and roll to perfection with Murray and, if needed, take the undersized Adebayo in the post to do damage. The Heat have had an amazing run through the playoffs but have been greatly aided by matchups that played to their strengths. This time, they will meet their match.

Prediction: Denver in Five games.

Conference/NBA Title Odds: Denver (-400)

  • In parenthesis, conference odds and finals odds. All odds Courtesy of

By Mark Ruelle

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Mark Ruelle

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.