The Daily Sweat: Can the Nuggets win if Nikola Jokic scores big?

One of the weirdest trends of the 2023 NBA playoffs is that the more Nikola Jokic scores, the worse the Denver Nuggets seem to be.

You've probably heard the stat by now: The Nuggets are 0-3 when their superstar center scores 40 or more points. Unlike many weird short-sample stats, this one makes some sense.

The Nuggets are at their best when Jokic is a facilitator. He's the best passing big man of all time, and the Nuggets are built around that skill. It's still a little odd that whenever Jokic is dominant as a scorer this postseason the Nuggets lose, but there's some logic.

That makes betting on Game 3 of the NBA Finals a little counterintuitive. Jokic is averaging 34 points per game this series. His points prop at BetMGM is 28.5. Would you prefer the under for Jokic if you like the Nuggets as 2.5-point favorites over the Miami Heat?

The other headlining player of the NBA Finals is Jimmy Butler, and he hasn't made over bettors happy yet. Butler scored 13 points in Game 1 and 21 points in Game 2. His point total prop for Game 3 is still 25.5, a figure he hasn't reached in four of Miami's last five games. Perhaps the 33-year-old Butler is a little tired after carrying the Heat for much of their historic playoff run. It's hard to bet against Butler, but the under trend is probably worth paying attention to.

Here are the point total props for a few other key players in Wednesday night's game:

Jamal Murray, 24.5

Bam Adebayo, 18.5

Michael Porter, 14.5

Gabe Vincent, 14.5

Aaron Gordon, 12.5

Bruce Brown, 10.5

Max Strus, 10.5

Here's another prop that will be of some interest: Jokic is +120 to get a triple-double. If you like the Nuggets to win on Wednesday night, that might be a better bet than the over on his point total.

Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets had a big scoring night in Game 2, but his team lost. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)
Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets had a big scoring night in Game 2, but his team lost. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Wednesday:

Rangers look to stay hot

One of the better stories in MLB lately has been the Texas Rangers, whose big spending is finally paying off with wins.

Despite the bad news that Jacob deGrom needs Tommy John surgery, the Rangers keep rolling. They've won five in a row, often with their offense battering opponents. Texas has scored 386 runs, which is 20 more than any other MLB team. Texas is a -145 favorite against a struggling St. Louis Cardinals team on Wednesday.

The Rangers are 40-20 and in first place of the AL West but the odds haven't felt inflated on them yet. The window is still open for bettors to profit off a good Texas team.

Rest of MLB

It's a full day in MLB that includes a pair of afternoon games. One of the afternoon game features a pair of teams that have struggled to find consistency this season, as the Seattle Mariners take on the San Diego Padres. The Mariners got the win at San Diego on Tuesday, and they're +100 underdogs on Wednesday. There's no real reason to bet the 28-33 Padres as a favorite until they start turning things around.

What's the best bet?

The Heat got a great win and they've been fantastic this postseason. But the Nuggets are still favored Wednesday for a reason. Let's do some zig-zag betting and take the Nuggets to rebound and cover the 2.5-point spread after their loss in Game 2. And we'll take the under on Jokic's points.