Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic calls for a ball as players take part in practice for Game 1 of the NBA basketball finals against the Miami Heat Wednesday, May 31, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Heat Face Nuggets in 2023 NBA Finals

The Miami Heat will face the Denver Nuggets in the 2023 NBA Finals. This is Miami’s second finals appearance since 2020 and the Nuggets first appearance in franchise history. Game 1 will be played on Thursday in Denver with tip-off set for 8:30 p.m.

Heat Look To Complete The Underdog Story

The No. 8 seeded Miami Heat are having quite a historic run. After losing their play-in game to the Atlanta Hawks, the season seemed to be over. However, a win over the Chicago Bulls in an elimination game put the Heat in a series with the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. Miami proceeded to do the unthinkable and eliminate the juggernaut in five games. They would go on to beat the Knicks and Celtics to advance to the finals.

Nonetheless, the Heat will now face their toughest test yet. The Nuggets have a dynamic duo of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Both stars have been unstoppable offensively all playoffs long. Jokic will be an issue to defend. He is too big and talented to be guarded by one player. It will require quick double teams and defensive rotations to make the game slightly harder for the two-time MVP.

Miami succeeded in the way they approached Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics are a team that is built around two star talents that can score from anywhere on the floor. Therefore, Head Coach Eric Spoelstra implemented a zone defense. This scheme made it difficult for Boston t0 cut to the basket and put up uncontested shots from beyond the arc.

Jimmy Butler won the ECF MVP award after averaging 24.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists for the series. Additionally, Butler was tasked in defending the best players on the floor. His play will be huge if the team wants any chance at upsetting the Nuggets.

Denver Searches for Franchise’s First Title

The Denver Nuggets have built their team the “right way” according to NBA fans. This is referring to the fact that they drafted their two stars players, developed them , and added a handful of role players and veterans around them. The team is led by Head Coach Michael Malone, who has been with Denver for 8 seasons. The team has finished near the top of the conference for the past few years, but have finally broke through to the finals.

Nikola Jokic has now cemented himself as one of, if not the best player in the league. Jokic utilizes his size, shooting ability, and flashy passing to dissect defenses. Miami will have to come into the series with a completely different defensive set. Also, they’ve already said that they will throw multiple bodies at Jokic over the course of the first game.

Transition points is an emphasis for Denver this series. When they are scoring efficiently on the fast break, the team is that much better at dominating on the scoreboard.

About Daniel Haviv

Hello, my name is Daniel Haviv and I'm a junior sports journalism student at the University of Florida. As a sports writer, I have published content on a multitude of different sports across all levels. Additionally, I was a beat reporter for the Gators Men's Basketball team for the 2022-2023 season. Game-day previews and post-game articles are featured.

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