DENVER STANDS ALONE

2023-06-13 · 3 min read · NBA/Basketball
Nuggets stars Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray

Daniel Brenner/The New York Times | USA-Today Sports

Well, there you have it, the Denver Nuggets are NBA champs. Capped off with a grueling Game 5 victory of the Miami Heat to win the series 4-1.Game 5 showed Denver’s resolve more than anything. A game where no one on either side could hit a shot, it was reduced to a battle of will, and this Nuggets team which had been praised for their offensive efficiency, but questioned about their toughness and defensive identity, proved the doubters wrong.
With the win, finals MVP Nikola Jokic established himself as not only the games best player, but one of the greatest centers to ever play the game. He finished the finals with averages of 30.2 ppg, 14.0 rpg, 7.2 apg and 1.4 spg, all while shooting a blistering 58.3% from the field.
He also finished the postseason as the leader in points, rebounds and assists for the first time in NBA history. The guy is an amazing player. There’s nothing more to be said.
He also had plenty of help though, Canadian-born Point Guard Jamal Murray also shined in these playoffs, showing that he can be a legitimate number two on a championship team. Aaron Gordon’s defense throughout the playoffs, but especially in Finals guarding Heat star Jimmy butler was immense as well, and Michael Porter Jr, who struggled mightily throughout the Finals, stepped up in a huge way in Game 5, making some key play off the bounce, and getting his hands on some big rebounds as well.
As for Miami, the clock sort of struck midnight on their Cinderella run. After Game 4, it was pretty evident that they just had no answers for the Denver attack. Butler looked completely gassed after working so hard through the first three rounds, he was also dealing with an ankle injury. Bam Adebayo was solid throughout the Finals, but chasing Jokic around clearly impacted his offensive game.
The Heat’s demise though was more due to their role players like Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, Max Struss and Gabe Vincent, all of whom had huge moments throughout the first 3 rounds, but just couldn’t get anything going against Denver.
In the end, it feels like the right team won the title this year. Denver was the clear best team in the West all season, and though the East had a surprise representative, Miami took down some great opponents, and were the last team standing in the end.
It feels like this Denver run could be sustainable for the next few years as well, as their main core remains under contract. Bruce Brown, who played a key role, is an impending free agent, and could get an offer too expensive for Denver to match, and the West should be stronger next year with Phoenix getting their feet under them with Kevin Durant, and the Clippers (supposedly) returning to full health.
But this Jokic-Murray combo is a force to be reckoned with, and should compete for years to come.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Eddie Huband

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