Heat vs Nuggets Live: Both the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets have the benefit of the full allotment of regulars participating in the seeding games and have clinched playoff spots. In terms of motivation, the Heat have a chance to move up to the No. 3 seed, which they are 2.5 games behind. They also have to protect their current No. 4 seeding from both the Pacers and 76ers (each two games behind).
GAME: NBA 2020
When: July 31,
How to watch: Click Here
The Nuggets are just 1.5 games behind the No. 2- seeded Clippers as the NBA restart kicks off. Denver also faces challenges for its current No. 3 seed from the Jazz (1.5 games behind), Thunder (2.5 games behind) and Rockets (2.5 games behind) in particular.
Each squad has deep benches to complement formidable starting units. However, the Nuggets have an experience edge over the Heat, whose first unit includes a starting backcourt of Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson. Denver’s Nikola Jokic, a key to its success, has also looked impressive in scrimmages.
The Heat are averaging 112.2 points per game, ranking them 15th in the NBA. That includes an average of 108.0 points per game outside their home floor of Miami Arena. Miami is surrendering 108.9 points per game — the 11th-fewest in the NBA – and have yielded 110.7 points per road game.
The Nuggets are averaging 110.4 points per game, ranking them 20th in the NBA. That includes an average of 109.5 points per game outside their home floor of Pepsi Center. Denver is surrendering 107.4 points per game – tying them with multiple teams for fifth fewest in the NBA – and have yielded 109.7 points per road game.
Miami is averaging 102.6 possessions per game (19th fastest), including 102.7 per road contest. Denver is 101.3 possessions per game (29th fastest), including 101.7 on the road.The Heat are 33-30-2 (52.4 percent) against the spread this season, including 13-19-1 (40.6 percent) away from their home floor. Miami is also 13-13-1 versus the number in non-conference matchups.
The Nuggets are 29-32-4 (47.5 percent) against the spread this season, including 13-17-2 (43.3 percent) away from their home floor. Denver is also 11-12-3 (47.8 percent) versus the number in non-conference matchups.The Over is 39-25-1 (Eastern Conference-high 60.9 percent) in the Heat’s games this season, including 17-15-1 (53.1 percent) in their road games. The Over is 15-12 (55.6 percent) in Miami’s non-conference games.
The Over is 30-34-1 (46.9 percent) in the Nuggets’ games this season, including 15-17 (46.9 percent) in their road games. The Over is 12-13-1 (48.0 percent) in Denver’s non-conference games.According to the best online sportsbooks, the Heat are 41-24 overall. 13-19-1 ATS on the road. 19-12-1, ATS at home, 32-31-2, ATS overall, 23-20-1 ATS as a favorite, 9-11-1 ATS as an underdog, and 39-25-1 o/u. Miami scores 112.15 points per game (108.00 on the road and 116.44 at home. They shoot 46.94% from the field, 77.77% from the free-throw line and 38.32 from the three-point line. They average 25.98 assists, 8.48 offensive rebounds, and 13.89 TOs per game.
The Heat allow 109.63 points per game (109.74 at home and 109.52 on the road). They keep opposing teams to 44.68% field goal, 77.65% FT, and 34.57% three-point shooting, and allow 24.71 assists per game. Miami averages 36.03 defensive rebounds and 7.40 steals per game.
Center/power forward Bam Adebayo and guard Kendrick Nunn practiced for the first time in the NBA bubble on Friday night. Both tested positive for COVID-19 and recently finished their quarantines. “It felt great just being back in the groove,” Adebayo said. “Getting used to it and being back around your brothers.” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said that Nunn will play in Saturday’s scrimmage versus the Utah Jazz.
Meanwhile Adebayo will probably sit out. Both expressed optimism that they would be good to go when seeding games begin next week.
“They wanted to be out there,” Spoelstra said. “They feel like they’ve been out long enough. So they basically ignored me and jumped on the court whenever they could. But it was great to have everybody out there — and practice, you can imagine the level of spirit that the guys brought. After 10 practices, this being our 11th, it was just a perfect time for that kind of infusion of energy and spirit from those two guys.”Per top offshore betting sites, the Nuggets are 43-22 overall. 14-17-1 ATS on the road and 16-15-2 ATS at home. 30-32-3 ATS overall. 21-24-3 ATS as a favorite and 9-8 ATS as a dog. The over/under is 30-34-1. Denver scores 110.40 points per game (109.47 on the road and 111.30 at home. The Nuggets shoot 47.07% from the field, 77.52% from the FT line, and 35.76% from beyond the arc. They average 26.52 assists, 10.74 offensive rebounds, and 12.94 TOs per game.
Denver allows 108.31 points per game (107.45 on the road and 109.12 at home). They keep opposing teams to 45.87% field goal, 75.64% free-throw, and 34.59% three-point shooting, and allow 25.02 assists per game. The Nuggets average 33.52 defensive rebounds and 8.14 steals per game.
Denver is already in the playoffs, where home-court advantage means sweet Fanny Adams. The Nuggets can finish anywhere from the No. 2 to the No. 6 seed, and nothing matters but the following matchup. “We don’t have to go 8-0 in these seeding games,” head coach Michael Malone said. “We have to use our time to make sure we’re not overloading our guys, we’re not getting guys injured while creating chemistry and continuity on the court.”
Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, Torrey Craig, Michael Porter Jr., and Monte Morris arrived late to the Orlando bubble. Jokic has had more time to acclimate and regain his chemistry with Jamal Murray and Co. Harris and Craig practiced for the first time on Friday. Porter has not been on the court yet. Morris only just arrived to the bubble.The time has finally come. Mile High Basketball is back.
From now on, when the Denver Nuggets take the court inside the NBA bubble in Orlando Saturday, the games will count. Denver begins its seeding games schedule with a matchup against the Miami Heat, a team fighting for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference.
The buildup to Saturday’s game has certainly not been smooth for the Nuggets, who have just recently been able to enjoy a full complement of players in the bubble. For two of the team’s three scrimmages, head coach Michael Malone has had to use lineups featuring four or sometimes even five big men on the court at the same time.
“With all our pieces back together, I think we’re going to be a team to be reckoned with,” Monte Morris said following Wednesday’s practice. “We’re hungry and we’re ready to show the world what we’re made of.”
Those scrimmages provided mixed results for Malone and the Nuggets, who saw some impressive performances from players such as Troy Daniels and Bol Bol, but the team struggled mightily when it came to taking care of the ball and defending the 3-point line.
Miami enters Saturday’s contest fourth in the Eastern Conference. Although the Heat will likely find it difficult to catch the third-seeded Boston Celtics who own a 2 ½ game lead in the standings, Miami will be trying to hold off the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers, who each sit two games back of the Heat.
Similar to Denver, Miami’s focus on offense is on ball movement. Therefore, it’s no surprise that these two teams rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in assists per game this season.
“I think the connection and the ball movement is still evident with this group,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “This group really enjoys sharing the game, sharing the ball with each other and trying to help each other play well. That’s a really special quality about this ball club.”
Here are three storylines to watch in Saturday’s contest.
Denver’s 3-point defense will be key
It’s one thing to struggle defending behind the arc against teams that don’t attempt many threes or struggle to hit consistently from deep. It’s another thing to struggle to defend the 3-pointer against the Heat, who rank 10th in 3-pointers attempted per game (34.8) and first in percentage at 38.3 percent.
Miami’s rotation features seven players that have shot over 36 percent on at least two 3-point attempts per game this season, headlined by Duncan Robinson, who has established himself as perhaps the game’s best shooter. Robinson has connected on 44.8 percent of his 3-pointers this season and is attempting 8.4 threes per game.
If Denver’s struggles carry over from the scrimmages, the defense will suffer mightily against Miami. The Nuggets’ frontcourt will also be tested in this regard, as Miami deploys Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard in its frontcourt rotation, two bigs that can stretch the floor well.
“Our closeouts, we have our hands down as opposed to having high hands,” Malone said Wednesday. “We have had poor discipline when it comes to running shooters off (the 3-point line), and then our communication. If we’re switching pick-and-rolls, the talk isn’t early enough and we’re putting two on the ball, leaving shooters open.”
During the regular season, Denver ranked third in opponent 3-point percentage at just 34.7 percent, but the Nuggets gave up a healthy number of attempts to teams. Denver ranked 20th in opponent 3-point attempt frequency, as 36 percent of their shots came from beyond the arc against the Nuggets.
Where will Denver’s offense come from?
Unlike in previous seasons, Miami’s defense hasn’t been the impenetrable force that it once was. According to Cleaning the Glass, the Heat rank 12th in defensive rating this season and struggle in certain key areas.
Miami struggles to force turnovers, gives up plenty of looks from beyond the arc and has allowed teams to finish at a high rate around the rim. Although Denver’s offense hasn’t been set up to exploit these areas of the floor, there is reason to believe that the Nuggets can score efficiently in Saturday’s contest.
Although Denver only ranks 19th in the frequency of shot attempts coming at the rim, the Nuggets have converted 64.8 percent of those shots, ranking ninth in the league. Given that teams have shot 65.7 percent at the rim against Miami this season (placing them 25th in the league in defending the basket), Denver’s guards and Nikola Jokić should be able to find a comfort zone inside the paint.
Although the Nuggets’ offense isn’t centered around the 3-point line, Miami ranks last in the league in the frequency of shots its opponents attempt from beyond the arc. 40.1 percent of opponent shot attempts against the Heat this season have come from deep. If the Nuggets get hot from beyond the arc, that could propel the offense to a big day.
Who will be available for Malone and the Nuggets?
When it comes down to it, these two teams are very evenly matched on paper. Both teams rank in or around the top 10 in offensive and defensive rating and both teams rely on ball movement on offense.
However, the Nuggets may simply be too shorthanded Saturday if players such as Gary Harris and Will Barton III don’t suit up. Malone revealed in Wednesday’s media availability that those players have been rested from recent practices and when asked about what the team’s rotation will look like in Saturday’s contest, Malone had to step back and reveal that he hasn’t been able to plan that out given the lack of healthy bodies.
Denver has had several key rotation players join the team over the past week, which means there hasn’t been much practice time to reintegrate them. If players have to sit out Saturday’s contest, reduce their minutes, or aren’t in sync with teammates throughout the course of the game, Miami will have an advantage in the first seeding game.