By Spencer Ripchik
Here we are—the NBA Finals.
After a long and short Western and Eastern Conference Finals, there are just two teams that remain, the Denver Nuggets and the long shot Miami Heat.
The Eastern Conference Finals was the more exciting of the two but didn’t look it after the first three games.
Miami won the first three games in dominant fashion. The next three games were a different story. The Boston Celtics won three straight forcing Game 7. If the Celtics won, it would’ve been the first team to come back down 3-0.
But, there still hasn’t been a team to come back down 3-0 as the Heat moved on.
The Nuggets made quick work of the Los Angeles Lakers and beat them in four games, giving Denver a week-plus rest to prepare for the Championship.
It’s the No. 1-seeded Nuggets against the No. 8-seeded Heat to see who will be crowned NBA Champions.
The better team on paper is the Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets have the best player left in center Nikola Jokić, who leads the team in points, rebounds, blocks and assists per game, averaging a triple-double.
The Lakers had no answer for Jokić. He led the team in scoring in half the games and had 30-plus points in those games.
He’s a problem for teams without a solid big man. Los Angeles had Anthony Davis, but he couldn’t do anything to stop Jokić.
JOK TO BEAT THE SHOT CLOCK pic.twitter.com/gdz6Hgmuaj
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) May 23, 2023
When the Lakers focused too much on Jokić, they got beat out on the perimeter and by Denver’s other stars.
Guard Jamal Murray is also averaging over 20 points per game this season and had his best series in the Playoffs against the Lakers.
He had over 20 points in all four games and over 30 points in three of them. He’s a problem too.
Then if those two are heavily guarded, Denver has another star Michael Porter Jr., who has great vision and can shoot, too.
He didn’t put up the massive numbers like the other two Nuggets’ stars in the Eastern Conference Finals, but he didn’t need to since his teammates were racking up the points.
If there’s one team that can handle a Big 3, it’s the team Denver is playing against, the Miami Heat.
The Heat dealt with the No. 1-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, who were loaded with stars, and the Celtics, who have one of the best Big 3’s in the league with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.
Miami’s been doubted series in and series out, but it has come out on top every time and it’s thanks to the chemistry the team has built up since the Heat’s appearance in the 2020 NBA Championship.
The squad is led by Jimmy Butler, who might be having the best playoffs out of any player. Butler led the team in scoring in five of the seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals and dropped 28 in Game 7 against the Celtics.
Started the half with another Jimmy triple 👌
We’re up to a 59-43 lead, tune in on TNT 📺 pic.twitter.com/eCOiwu3ij6
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 30, 2023
He’s been finding the basket with ease and in the final couple of games of the series didn’t need to do all the work.
Players like Duncan Robinson and Gabe Vincent have stepped up to support on the offensive end.
This series is going to come down to whether or not the Heat can stop Jokić. Jokić has been really good in the paint and Miami does have a player to stop him, Bam Adebayo.
At 6-foot-9, he’s undersized, so he could have trouble stopping the bigger Jokić, which might be the reason why the Nuggets take the series.
However, the Heat have been doubted the whole Playoffs and the person who has been the go-to guy when the team has been doubted is Butler. The man who makes something out of nothing.
With that being said, Jokić is too big of a problem for the Heat to stop and even if they do, they have a bunch of other players that can score at a high rate.
Prediction: Nuggets in 6
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