Denver Nuggets host Miami Heat in Battle of Top Scoring Offenses

The two top scoring teams in NBA Basketball collide on Friday night, as the Denver Nuggets (7-4, 5-1 home) play host to the visiting Miami Heat (8-3, 5-2 away). With Miami faltering twice in overtime this week, they’ll have to be on point down the stretch in tonight’s game, if they wish to stand a chance at closing out against a hot shooting Denver team that put up 123 points at home in their win over New Jersey on Wednesday. Making for an exciting match-up for online sports betting at one of the top reviewed sportsbooks found here, let’s break down the match-up to find out who may have the advantage in a likely high-scoring competition.

While the Miami Heat regained the presence of Dwayne Wade in the lineup after missing 3 games with a bruised foot, they were unable to put down a few clutch shots in overtime to secure a win against Golden State on Wednesday, and as such come into tonight’s match-up losers of two straight to West Coast teams. In the final game of a 5-game road stretch, the Heat will have to focus on doing a better job tonight on defense against the fast-paced, solid-shooting Nuggets, who rank 2nd to Miami in field goal percentage (48.7) and in total scoring (103.6 points/game), and lead the league in assists with 24.1 per contest. Coming off a game against New Jersey in which Denver posted a season-high 37 assists including 12 from point guard Andre Miller (10 points, 6.5 assists per game), and shot lights out from the floor (%51.8) and from behind the arc (a whopping %57.1, on 20-35 shooting), Miami simply has to put more pressure on outside guards who distribute the ball well and are playing solid, unselfish basketball.

Where Miami has a comparative advantage however is on the boards, averaging over 4 rebounds more per game than Denver (44.5 to 40.3), and controlling the glass on both the offensive and defensive sides will be key towards a Heat victory tonight. That starts with containment on Denver’s top rebounder, center Nene Hilario (11.6 points, 8 rebounds/game) and power forward Al Harrington (14.3 points, 5.2 rebounds/game), who should be the focus on defense for Miami’s Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem to play tough against. With Bosh, Haslem and LeBron James all averaging north of 7.1 rebounds on the defensive end, Miami should be able to win the rebounding margin tonight, which is essential towards limiting the second chances of a hot-shooting Nuggets team. It was precisely one year ago today that the Denver Nuggets scored 130 points on this Miami Heat defense, and allowing them to continue to work on offense due to poor blocking out will give Denver a big step up in tonight’s contest.

For Denver, keeping up their high percentage shooting is a must against the top-scoring offense in the NBA, so getting Ty Lawson (%49.6 shooting, 16.4 points/game) back in the line-up as well as leading scorer Danilo ‘Rooster’ Gallinari (%47 percent shooting, 17.2 points/game) will be a big boost for the Nuggets tonight. Both players are coming into tonight with lingering ankle/foot injuries, and whether they are able to go a full night will be something to watch out for. If they are healthy enough to go, those two will lead the scoring for a very well balanced offense that likes to spread the scoring wealth around, as is evidenced by the fact that no player has more than 20 points per game, but 6 players are in double figures. If Lawson and Gallinari are limited, the Nuggets bench will have to step up and fill the void, which could mean more playing time for Corey Brewer (7.8 points/game on 11.8 minutes/game) and Rudy Fernandez, both who stepped up big off the bench in Wednesday’s win against New Jersey (19 and 15 points respectively). Bench scoring is crucial as well for the Nuggets, and we can expect head coach George Karl to keep his players rotating frequently to avoid wearing out against a fast-paced offense like Miami’s.

On the offensive side of the ball for the Miami Heat, we’re all plenty familiar with the exploits of LeBron James (29 points, 8.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists/game), Dwayne Wade (20.5 points, 5.4 assists, 1.9 blocks)) and Chris Bosh (19.4 points, 8.1 rebounds) who comprise the famous ‘Big Three’, however in tonight’s high scoring affair it’s going to take more effort from the Heat’s peripheral players to put up enough points against a high-scoring team like Denver. Getting big efforts out of inside guys like center Joel Anthony (just 3.4 points, 4.3 rebounds in 23 minutes/game), and better bench scoring all around will be critical against a Nuggets team that stays fresh and can get big scoring from their own talented bench assets. In the 89-95 overtime loss against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, the Miami bench contributed just 11 points despite the fact that Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem played 25 and 31 minutes respectively. While the Big Three can easily carry a game for the Heat, against a team like the Nuggets they simply must allow contributions from the rest of the team, not just their stars. If one of the Big Three has an off night and no one steps up the fill the void, Miami will walk away with a 3rd consecutive defeat, but if the Heat use their solid passing game (23.2 assists/game, 3rd in the league) to find open members of the supporting cast, they’ll easily be able to keep pace on the road against a confident Denver team that should have no problem scoring over 100 points against the Miami defense that gives up 97.7 points to opposing offenses (6th worst in the league).

Betting Lines for Miami Heat at Denver Nuggets

For tonight’s marquee match-up between the two highest scoring teams in the league, we’re planting wagers at the Betonline Sportsbook, one of the top online sportsbooks reviewed by our staff here. With tons of optional betting options on tonight’s game (check out the betting lines for the game and look for the ‘+’ symbol by the over/under to expand the props), Betonline is a great place to wager on tonight’s top NBA game, with competitive lines and one of the quickest methods for placing wagers we’ve seen. That said, breaking into the actual ‘Big Three’ wagering options, the Denver Nuggets enter tonight’s contest as an underdog at +145 odds on the money line, while the visiting Miami Heat are -165 favorites to win straight up. Against the spread, which stands at 3.5 points, Miami will need to cover (-110 odds), while the Nuggets have a spare 3.5 points to play with (-110 odds as well) for underdog pickers. Lastly on the over/under, with the game expected to be very high scoring there’s no surprise to see 210 1/2 points as the mark on total points, and with little defense likely to show up tonight, there’s a pretty high chance each team can put down the 106 points need to break through that barrier.

Our Pick to Win:

This game could very much hedge on whether the Nuggets can get full performances out of Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari, as their scoring presences would certainly aid Denver’s chances of running with the Heat, who will be no doubt very intent on avoiding a 3rd consecutive defeat. That said, even without their two leading scorers, Denver has been adept at finding ways to win with big scoring contributions from their bench, and will make a tough fight out of tonight’s game regardless of who starts or plays full minutes. For the fact that Denver is at home, and has more depth around their offense, I like the Nuggets as the underdog pick on home court, to send LeBron James and the Heat back to South Florida with 3 losses to ponder over. Nonetheless, expect a very exciting, high-scoring game, in which I’ll back Denver to squeak out a 110-108 victory over Miami.

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