The NBA Finals have finally arrived with the Miami Heat taking on the Denver Nuggets. With some of the game's brightest stars at the center stage, Nikola Jokic stands alone as the premier player of the NBA Finals. The two-time MVP enters the Finals averaging a staggering 29.9 PPG through 15 playoff games. Consequently, FanDuel set the Finals MVP favorite's series points prop sky-high. Can the Joker rise to the occasion or will he shrivel in the moment? Below we continue our NBA odds series with a Nikola Jokic series points prediction and pick.
Here are the Nikola Jokic series points odds, courtesy of FanDuel
NBA Finals Odds: Nikola Jokic Series Points Odds
Over: 27.5 (-113)
Under: 27.5 (-113)
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Why Nikola Jokic Will Average Over 27.5 Points
Despite averaging 29.9 this postseason, Nikola Jokic's series point prop is set at a “measly” 27.5 PPG. Although he's surpassed that for his playoff total average, his series-by-series totals are much closer. Take a look at his three series prior to the Finals:
MIN: 26.2 PPG (49%) | 2.2 3PM (50%) | 4.8 FTM (71%)
PHX: 34.5 PPG (59%) | 1.3 3PM (44%) | 5.8 FTM (85%)
LAL: 27.8 PPG (51%) | 2.0 3PM (47%) | 5.3 FTM (78%)
Thus far, Jokic averaged over 27.5 in two out of his three series. The only series he didn't eclipse that total was their opening-round win against the Timberwolves. His field goal attempts remained steady in that series (19.8 FGA) and he shot the ball well from beyond the arc. However, an uncharacteristic series from the free-throw line did him in as he shot just 71%. Considering he is a career 83% free throw shooter, Jokic very easily could have hit that 27.5 PPG mark. All in all, Jokic has displayed the volume and efficiency to easily surpass 27.5 PPG in the Finals.
Now, let's look at the matchup.
Since 2020-21 (Jokic's first MVP season), the Joker holds a stellar 6-0 record against the Heat. Although he only averaged 22.2 PPG in those games, he did so on a measly 14.2 shot attempts per game. In fact, he eclipsed 14 shot attempts just once in six tries. He notably didn't surpass 27 points in any of those six games but shot 64% overall in just 33.7 minutes per game. Factoring in his increased usage during the playoffs (38.9 minutes per game and 21.2 shot attempts per game) and it's easy to see how he can have a field day. Additionally, while opposing center Bam Adebayo is known for his defensive prowess, Jokic stands two inches taller and weighs 30 lbs. more than him. Considering Miami lacks any size, Jokic has a clear advantage down low.
Why Nikola Jokic Will Average Under 27.5 Points
Despite Jokic's stellar scoring mark, two major hurdles stand in his way from hitting the over in this series. First, Miami's stellar defense could prove troublesome even for a player of Jokic's caliber. Second, Jokic's passing prowess and unselfish style could lead him to dominate the game in ways other than scoring.
Miami boasts one of the best defenses in the NBA and one of the best interior defenders in the league. Opponents are averaging a measly 24.1 FGA per game inside five feet – a place Jokic thrives. No one compares to Jokic, but looking at the big men who Miami has matched up against. Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez combined for 42.3 PPG – although Giannis was notably limited. The Heat held New York's Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson to just 24 PPG in the second round. Finally, Boston's Al Harford and Robert Williams averaged a near 16.1 PPG. While none of these players (aside from Giannis) hold a tee to Jokic, it's clear Miami's defense has the chops to make life difficult on the inside.
While it may sound asinine on paper, Jokic dominating the series could actually hurt his ability to average 27.5 PPG. Above we pointed out that Jokic hasn't once eclipsed 27 points against the Heat over the last three seasons. Yet, his team won all six matchups and Jokic was the clear best player on the floor. His unselfish style led to him attempting either 14 or 15 shot attempts in every game. That won't do if he wants to hit the over on his points prop. He only averaged 26.9 PPG in their 12 playoff wins thus far – compared to a staggering 42 PPG in their three losses.
Final Nikola Jokic Series Points Prediction & Pick
This is a tough prop because of how unselfish Jokic is. He is the rare superstar who can (and will) dominate games without needing to score a boatload of points. That said, Jokic is on a mission to bring Denver their first championship. When push comes to shove, expect him to score – even if he doesn't want to.
Final Nikola Jokic Series Points Prediction & Pick: Over 27.5 PPG (-113)