Since the NBA regular season ended almost two months ago, the Miami Heat made the Milwaukee Bucks look bad, pretty easily got past the New York Knicks and won three road games in the Eastern Conference finals to eliminate the Boston Celtics.
This is not a Heat team that will back down against anyone. That's why the odds for Game 1 of the NBA Finals are a bit curious.
The Heat are an 8.5-point underdog at BetMGM against the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets have played very well this postseason and it's nice to see them finally getting their just due. But it still seems a bit disrespectful to the Heat.
The situation for the Heat isn't great, and that's a reason the spread is high. The Nuggets swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals and had a lot of time to rest. The Heat had a tough series against the Celtics and went right to the high altitude of Denver. We could see a tired Heat team on Thursday night. Then again, it's possible the Nuggets are rusty. No NBA player is really used to a week and a half off during the season.
The Nuggets went 2-0 against the Heat in the regular season, but both games were close. They won by five at home and four at Miami. But it's almost useless to look at what the Heat did in the regular season anyway. It has been a much different team in the playoffs.
The Game 1 line and the series odds, in which the Nuggets are -400 favorites to win the championship, don't give the Heat much chance. We should probably all know better by now than to dismiss the Heat.
Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:
The Memorial starts on PGA Tour
The Memorial, with a strong field, gets going in Dublin, Ohio, on Thursday. Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay were the three favorites heading into the tournament. The Memorial isn't one of the four majors but it's one of the better events on the PGA Tour outside of the majors.
MLB has a light slate
It's a travel day in Major League Baseball and as a result we'll have just seven games on Thursday.
The best games early on are the Milwaukee Brewers at the Toronto Blue Jays for the rubber match of that series after the teams split the first two, and the New York Mets hosting the struggling Philadelphia Phillies. Max Scherzer is on the mound for the Mets, who are -165 favorites. The Blue Jays are -190 favorites over the Brewers.
At night we get the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins hosting the Cleveland Guardians. The Guardians are seven games behind the Twins and if they want to make a move, this four-game series would be a good start. Minnesota is a -135 favorite for Thursday's game.
What's the best bet?
I have to take the Heat and the points. It's entirely possible they look very tired, or wear out late in the thin air, but this Heat team has proven everyone wrong all postseason. I like the Nuggets to win the series but 8.5 points is too many for me to lay with the favorite in Game 1.