2023-05-30 · 2 min read · NBA/Basketball
Denver Nuggets Nikola Jokić and Christian Braun

Lapresse | AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Here we are, down to the 8th seed Miami Heat and the 1st seed Denver Nuggets for the NBA title.It’s a surprising outcome, particularly on the East side, but as it all shook down, it feels like we ended up with the right two teams.
At first glance, this series looks like a mismatch.Denver has been the best team all season, and throughout the playoffs, impressively dispatching of the top-heavy Phoenix Suns, and the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers en route to a Western Conference title.In this serie against the Heat, they should have some significant advantages.
Size is going to be a major problem for Miami.Nikola Jokic is the best player in the world and it’s not close, and shouldn’t have any issues with Bam Adebayo trying to slow him down.Adebayo is a great defensive player, but he’s giving up a significant amount of size to Jokic, and the way the former MVP has made the likes of Anthony Davis, Deandre Ayton and Rudy Gobert look silly thus far, things don’t bode well for Miami.Furthermore, the Heat have no option as a backup in case Adebayo gets in foul trouble (which he will).
Beyond the matchup at the center spot, Denver’s wings are physically imposing as well.Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., and even Jeff Green are all bigger and stronger than anyone on Miami other than Adebyo.Denver should have a major rebounding advantage in this series.
Another major advantage for Denver is Jamal Murray.One of the things Miami struggles with is dealing with scoring point guards, as seen in their second round series against the Knicks where Jalen Brunson torched them.Luckily for Miami, Boston didn’t have a player of that caliber at the point of attack to worry about, but Denver sure does.Murray has been outstanding this far in the postseason, putting up 27.9 ppg, 6.1 apg and 5.5 rpg while shooting nearly 40% from 3.
It will be a tall task for Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin and Kyle Lowry to stay in front of him.
Denver also has plenty of bodies to throw at Miami’s star Jimmy Butler.Aaron Gordon will get plenty of reps, along with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and even Bruce Brown off the bench.Butler will still get his, but he’ll have to work for everything.
Miami is going to do what they always do; be tough and resilient, muck the game up and keep the pace slow.They’ll get a couple of off-the-charts shooting nights from roll players like Vincent, Martin and Duncan Robinson, and they’ll throw all sorts of weird defenses Denver’s way like matchup zones and full court presses.I’m sure they’ll give Jokic plenty of different looks defensively as well.
The problem is, when you're going against a cerebral offensive maestro like Jokic with such an incredibly high basketball IQ, those defenses that managed to confuse the hapless Boston Celtics might get picked apart in this series.
Now, even though Denver is a different animal from anyone Miami has faced thus far, and SHOULD be considered the heavy favorite, this Miami Heat team doesn’t go by the rules of “should”.They’re clearly under one of Pat Riley’s dark magic spells that defies the laws of physics, god, and basketball, and they should never be counted out.
Having said that….
Denver in 5
Sports Tree Profile

By: Eddie Huband


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