2023 NBA Finals: Nuggets Beat Heat in 5, clinch first-ever title

2023 NBA Finals: Nuggets Beat Heat in 5, clinch first-ever title

Confetti, cheers, hugs, tears, and jubilation were the mood at the Ball Arena as the Denver Nuggets became NBA champions for the first time in their 47-year history and were handed the prestigious Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The top-seeded Nuggets overcame the Miami Heat 94-89 in the early hours of Tuesday morning to defeat the Eastern Conference champions in five games.

Serbian superstar Nikola Jokic led all scorers with 28 points and 16 rebounds, shooting 12-of-16 from the field, and was subsequently awarded the Bill Russell trophy as the NBA Finals MVP.

The 28-year-old averaged 30.3 ppg, 14.0 rbg, and 7.2 apg in his first-ever Finals. He became the first center to win the MVP award since Shaquille O’Neal in 2002, the lowest-drafted player to win the finals MVP award, and the first player to lead the playoffs in points (600), rebounding (269), and assists (190).

“We are not in it for ourselves, we are in it for the guy next to us,” Jokic said. “And that’s why this [means] even more.”

The game, which started slowly for both teams, saw the Nuggets fall 5-0 behind in the first ten minutes, but head coach Michael Malone called a timeout to settle the dust, and the team scored 12 straight points and held the Heat to zero field goals on their next ten attempts.

Despite Eril Spoelstra’s adjustment ensuring the Heat went into the halftime break with a seven-point lead at 51-44, the Nuggets tightened up in the third quarter with a 26-20 score before finishing their opponents off in the fourth and final quarter with a 24-18 score.

Michael Porter Jr. helped the Nuggets with 16 points and 13 rebounds; Jamal Murray, who had a poor game by his own standards, finished with 14 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds; Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 11 points; and Aaron Gordon, who has been one of the Nuggets’ best players in the playoffs, could only manage four points.

Although the Heat lost the game, Bam Adebayo finished the game with a 20-point and 12-rebound double-double for his fifth consecutive 20-point or more game of the Finals and his fourth double-double game.

Jimmy Butler, who has been Miami’s most important player in the playoffs, was unable to replicate his postseason form in the Finals, as he struggled throughout and finished with 21 points, shooting 5-of-18 from the field and 2-of-5 from the 3-point line.

The Nuggets, who were the best team in the West in the regular season, proved it was not a coincidence as they overcame all of the obstacles placed before them, including defeating the pre-tournament favourites, the Phoenix Suns, and sweeping LeBron James and the seventeen-time champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, ending with a historic run to immortality.

They have now sent a huge warning to the rest of the league—sort of an awakening call—that they have arrived, are part of the “big boys”, and are definitely here to stay.

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