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NBA Finals 2023 Odds, Predictions, Expert Picks & Best Bets



Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals will tip off from Ball Arena on Thursday, June 1 in Denver, Colorado. Two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic leads the top-seeded Denver Nuggets against ‘Playoff Jimmy’ and the No. 8-seed Miami Heat. Does the Joker have enough tricks in his bag to deliver the franchise’s first NBA Championship? 

NBA Finals 2023: Nuggets vs Heat Game 1 Preview

NBA Finals 2023 Betting Offers

NBA Championship Odds

At -410 odds, Denver comes into the 2023 NBA Finals as the second-biggest favorite in the past decade. Only the 2018 Golden State Warriors were bigger favorites (-1075) against the Cleveland Cavaliers. With Denver set as an overwhelming favorite, Jokic is the odds-on favorite to win the NBA Finals MVP award at -400.

On the other hand, the Heat have clawed their way back to the NBA Finals after delivering a knockout punch in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to a resilient Boston Celtics squad. After carrying Miami through the first two rounds, Jimmy Butler got some help from an unlikely hero in the Eastern Conference Finals. Caleb Martin averaged 19.3 points while shooting 60 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range to give Miami a chance to play for an NBA Championship.

Miami enters with +330 odds to win the NBA Finals with Butler set at +330 odds to win the NBA Finals MVP.

NBA Finals 2023 Game 1 Odds

Nuggets Trying To Remain Focused After Long Layoff

The Nuggets come into Game 1 as 8.5-point favorites and will be -370 betting favorites to open the NBA Finals with a win at Ball Arena. Meanwhile, Miami will come into Denver as a +300 underdog to steal Game 1 on the road in Denver.

There’s no doubt that Denver will enter the NBA Finals as the fresher team. The Nuggets will be dealing with a 10-day layoff in Game 1 after sweeping the L.A. Lakers on May 22nd, but could the extra time come back to haunt them?

Jokic has been brilliant during the NBA Playoffs, averaging a triple-double and dominating some of the league’s best big men in the process. Through 15 games, the Joker is averaging 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 10.3 assists while shooting 47.4 percent from 3-point range.

Perhaps the unsung hero of Denver’s playoff run, Aaron Gordon has stepped up as the Nuggets’ defensive stopper during the NBA Playoffs, taking on Karl-Anthony Towns, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James in back-to-back-to-back series.

Now, Gordon will be tasked with slowing down Butler, who has seemingly single-handedly carried the Heat at times offensively.

As their primary defender, Gordon limited towns to just 37 percent shooting and Durant to just 38 percent. While James shot a blistering 60 percent from the field versus Gordon, the Nuggets forward limited him to just 27.8 points per game and blocked LeBron’s game-winning field goal attempt at the buzzer in Game 4 to complete the four-game sweep.

Who Will Step Up For Miami In Game 1 Of The NBA Finals?

For the Heat, they are the first-ever NBA Play-In Tournament team to reach the NBA Finals and the first No. 8 seed to play for an NBA title since 1999.

Butler has led Miami in scoring during its playoff run, averaging 28.5 points per game but it’s been the Heat’s bevy of undrafted role players that have been making names for themselves on the road to the Finals. Martin’s breakthrough performance during the Eastern Conference Finals was just another example of the famed ‘Heat culture’. While Martin likely deserved the Eastern Conference Finals MVP Award, Gabe Vincent, Duncan Robinson, Max Strus, and Haywood Highsmith also played quality minutes for Miami in the series.

Robinson’s emergence may have been perhaps been the most surprising. After not playing for most of the regular season and shooting s dismal 32.8 percent from 3-point range, the Heat sharpshooter found his stroke during the playoffs. Robinson has shot a blistering 44.6 percent from beyond the arc during the postseason and is fresh off of averaging 11.3 points per game off of the bench versus the Celtics.

NBA Finals 2023 Predictions

Here are our best bets for the 2023 NBA Finals:

NBA Finals MVP: Jamal Murray (+1200)

The NBA Finals will be Jamal Murray’s time to shine.

The Nuggets’ point guard has developed into one of the best clutch scorers in the NBA and has already amassed seven 30-point games during Denver’s championship run. Murray poured in 32.5 points per game in the Western Conference Finals and has shot 39.8 percent from long-range during the postseason. He will be a handful for a team that struggled to contain Marcus Smart and Derrick White on the perimeter in its last series.

At +1200, Murray has a legitimate shot to win the NBA Finals MVP Award, especially if Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra finds a way to zero in on Jokic during the NBA Finals.

NBA Championship Pick: Denver Nuggets (-410)

Talent-wise, Denver has the advantage at seemingly every position heading into Game 1. A top-five ranked offense during the regular season, the Nuggets have enough firepower from beyond the arc to contend with Miami’s 3-point attack and Jokic should be able to have his way with Bam Adebayo and the Heat frontline defense. With Miami coming off of an emotional series in the Eastern Conference Finals, it’s hard to see the Heat pulling off another upset here.

Take the Denver Nuggets to win the series at -410.

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NBA veteran James Johnson brags he could beat UFC champion Jon Jones after one year of training – Basketball Insiders




James Johnson has been playing in the NBA ever since the 2009/10 campaign. Today, the 36-year-old is part of the Pacers roster, but back when he was a kid he recalls he would practice marital arts and has kept at it ever since. As his career is closely coming to an end, he believes he can beat one of the best fighters in UFC history.

In this week’s appearance in the “NBA Rookie Life with Ryan Hollins” podcast, the foward talked about his chances of making it professionally as a fighter.

“It’s something I’d really love to do. ‘Till this day, I’m training and enjoying it, trying to get conditioning from something different than running lines,” Johnson shared. “As far as that fighting goes, it’s something I really would love to do. I would take it very seriously.”

This past NBA campaign, Johnson only averaged 2.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per match in Indiana. It seems he was most comfortable talking about fighting than basketball, as he spoke without hesitation about his favorite UFC star Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, probably one of the best heavyweights in history.

“I’d rock with Jones, obviously. He’s got that dawg in him, Jones Bones. He’s an all-around fighter to me. When you look at some of his technique, it’s so sharp. Just the technique alone will cut you,” the Pacers player expressed.

He then talked about how he would fare if he would ever face Jones in the octagon. “The fighting game is so packed, it’s hard to weed out the best,” he added. “There’s so much content and YouTube content out there, it’s hard to determine unless you see them face-to-face if they really got that fight in them. I would need a year.”

Johnson got excited over the conversation, and went on to anticipate what kind of training he would need to prepare him for a fight against ‘Bones’.

“My standup game is great, but we all know Jones is a collegiate wrestler, really good on the ground, and that’s not my forte. I can get on the ground, I can roll a little bit, rumble a little bit, but to his level – I would definitely need a year to work on counters and defenses against it so we can stand on our feet,” he explained.

Johnson is clear on what are his attributes and which areas he should improve if he was to confront the UFC star

The NBA veteran took the conversation very seriously, almost listing all the details he’d need to prepare for this hypothetical and ambitious encounter in the octagon.

“I like fighting in close. I don’t even like to use the space, I like being close,” Johnson said. “I feel like I generate more power in close than make a wide swing or a long swing, I feel that takes forever. I think I could beat him for real. Like I said, with a year of training defense… I just need ground defense.”

In the video above, take a look at some of Jon Jones’ highlights as a UFC legend. Do you think Johnson could actually beat him?

“He started learning how to use your hands and your feet after college. I’ve been punching and kicking since I was five, six years old. The same thing for me is the opposite thing for him because he’s been wrestling for that long, learning all his wrestling moves and things like that for that long,” the Pacers foward analyzed his chances.

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Trail Blazers not interested in trading for Bulls star Zach LaVine




The Portland Trail Blazers are not entertaining any trade packages from the Chicago Bulls for Zach LaVine, according to reports. The Bulls were rumored to enter the Damian Lillard trade sweepstakes. However, it seems Portland is demanding more from Chicago than LaVine and multiple first-round draft picks.

“PHLY Sports’ Kyle Neubeck upped the ante late Wednesday by saying on his outlet’s podcast that the Bulls ‘might be trying to move LaVine as part of a multi-team deal just to see if they can get into the Lillard sweepstakes,’” The Athletic’s Kelly Iko wrote.

“Multiple league sources indicated throughout the offseason that the Trail Blazers showed little interest in acquiring LaVine directly, mostly because he doesn’t match their rebuilding path and commitment to a young backcourt of Scoot Henderson and Anfernee Simons.”

According to a few NBA betting sites, the Chicago Bulls hold 22nd-ranked odds to win next season’s championship in 2024. Sportsbooks are showing better odds for the Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors, and Brooklyn Nets.

Zach LaVine, 28, has spent the last six NBA seasons (2017-23) with the Bulls. In 77 starts last season, the guard averaged 24.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and a career-high 35.9 minutes per game. Plus, the two-time All-Star shot 48.5% from the floor and 37.5% beyond the arc.

In Chicago’s 132-118 win over the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 30, the guard scored a season-high 43 points in 39 minutes as a starter. He finished 15-of-20 (75%) shooting from the floor and drained five 3-pointers, along with tallying three rebounds, six assists, and two steals.

Portland Trail Blazers not entertaining Zach LaVine trade packages from the Chicago Bulls; a three-team trade is not out of the question?

Last July, Zach LaVine signed a five-year, $215.16 million max extension with the Bulls. His deal includes a $48.96 million player option for the 2026-27 season and a 15% trade bonus. The nine-year veteran is projected to earn $40.06 million in 2023-24 and $43.03 million in 2024-25.

Both the Trail Blazers and the New York Knicks could be scratched off LaVine’s trade list. In June, the Bulls let a news story leak suggesting that LaVine’s camp would not be negotiating any potential trades with teams that have a biased history of preferring clients of Creative Artist Agency (CAA).

“A source said the LaVine camp isn’t interested in dealing with the Knicks, who have a reputation around the league of favoring clients of CAA, the agency that employed Leon Rose before his move to the Knicks front office,” wrote New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy. LaVine is represented by Klutch Sports CEO and agent Rich Paul.

Would Damian Lillard want to play in Chicago? That’s another point to consider. He prefers the Miami Heat. Although the Bulls are up to establishing a Lillard-LaVine-DeMar DeRozan trio, this plan seems unlikely. Chicago will have to trade away one of the two aforementioned players. A lot of unknown variables come into play here.

Of course, the Portland Trail Blazers hold all the cards.

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Clippers sign guard Xavier Moon to an Exhibit 10 contract




The Los Angeles Clippers are signing free agent guard Xavier Moon to an Exhibit 10 contract, according to reports. Moon, 28, went undrafted out of Morehead State University in 2017.

On Aug. 10, 2017, Moon signed his first professional contract with ALM Évreux Basket of the LNB Pro B. After six months, Moon left the team due to disagreements with his coach and returned to the states.

In 2018, the 6-foot-2 guard joined the Albany Patroons of The Basketball League (TBL). Moon averaged 18 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game and was named North American Premier Basketball (NAPB) Rookie of the Year.

Moon then signed with London Lightning of the National Basketball League of Canada on Sept. 7, 2018. He averaged 13.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game in 40 games.

Furthermore, the Alabama native went on to play for the Canadian Elite Basketball League’s Edmonton Stingers. In his first game on May 11, 2019, he scored 36 points in a 118-105 overtime win against the Niagara River Lions.

Moon averaged 19.3 points and 5.7 assists per game for Edmonton and was named league MVP. He led the team to the semifinals before losing to the Saskatchewan Rattlers.

Following the season, Moon tried out for Raptors 905 of the NBA G League, but he was later waived.

On Nov. 15, 2019, the guard re-signed with the NBL’s London Lightning. Moon averaged 21.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game during the shortened 2019–20 season and was named to the First Team All-NBL Canada. On Jan. 4, 2020, he scored 39 points in a 113-97 victory over the KW Titans.

Los Angeles Clippers sign G League star Xavier Moon to an Exhibit 10 contract; the 6-foot-2 guard won two CEBL Final MVPs

Additionally, Xavier Moon signed with Wilki Morskie Szczecin of the Polish Basketball League on June 25, 2020. However, it was short-lived. The Morehead State product decided to re-join the Edmonton Stingers for the 2020 CEBL season.

In Edmonton’s 90-73 win against the Fraser Valley Bandits in the championship game, he scored 31 points and was named the Final MVP. After averaging 19.5 points, 4.5 assists, 4.0, boards, and 1.8 steals per game, Moon won his second MVP award as well.

In August 2020, Moon signed with Maccabi Hod HaSharon of the Israeli National League. In 31 appearances, he averaged 24.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game. Nevertheless, that was it with the ISL.

Following the season, the guard returned to the Edmonton Stingers of the CEBL for the 2020-2021 season. He won his third CEBL MVP award, his second CEBL championship, and his second CEBL Final MVP Award.

In October 2021, Moon signed with the Agua Caliente Clippers, the Los Angeles Clippers’ G League affiliate. Of course, Agua Caliente is now known as the Ontario Clippers. In 14 games of the 2021-22 G League season, he averaged 12.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.

On Dec. 26, 2021, Moon signed a 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Clippers. The undrafted guard made his first NBA career appearance in the Clippers’ 124-108 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 27.

Los Angeles then signed Moon to a second 10-day contract. In 10 games off the bench in the 2021-22 NBA season, he averaged 5.8 points, 1.4 boards, 2.4 assists, and 13.7 minutes per game.

Moon could receive the Clippers’ final two-way spot, joining forwards Moussa Diabate and Jordan Miller

Moreover, in the Clippers’ 138-88 regular-season finale win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on April 10, 2022, the guard recorded career highs of 17 points and seven assists in 27 minutes as a reserve.

In March 2023, Xavier Moon signed a two-way contract with Los Angeles. Not to mention, he averaged 1.8 points, 1.3 assists, and 5.0 minutes per game in four appearances off the bench.

As a result, his NBA career might not be over just yet.

While with the G League’s Ontario Clippers last season, Moon made 20 starts in 29 games. The guard logged 22 points, 4.1 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 32.8 minutes per contest. Also, he was named to the All-NBA G League Third Team.

Moon finished fourth in points (638), seventh in steals (30), 10th in blocks (35), second in field goal percentage (51.9%), second in field goals (250), and eight in offensive rating (114.8).

Regarding his new contract, training camp deals are one-year, minimum-salary contracts. An Exhibit 10 contract can be converted into a two-way deal before the regular season begins. Forwards Moussa Diabate and Jordan Miller occupy two of the Los Angeles Clippers’ three two-way slots.

Each NBA team can now sign a maximum of three two-way players, per the new CBA. As a matter of fact, Moon could receive the third spot. Exhibit 10 contracts are non-guaranteed, allowing teams to waive the signee without taking a cap hit.

If Xavier Moon is waived by the Los Angeles Clippers, he will be eligible to receive a bonus worth between $5,000 to $75,000 by joining the Ontario Clippers and spending at least 60 days with the G League team.

Because of his work ethic, he should have no problem making a roster spot.

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