Hey guys this is BSO Sr. NBA Writer Daniel Bell
It took a little a bit of drama, but we finally have our NBA Finals matchup.
We knew the Denver Nuggets would be representing the Western Conference after they swept the Lakers and it seemed like a couple of weeks had gone by before they found out who they’d be playing.
The Heat went up 3-0 over the Celtics and everyone was 100% sure that’s who would be in the NBA Finals but then the Celtics remembered they were a good basketball team and turned the series around and won 3 straight to force a game 7 on their home floor. Ultimately, they ran out of gas and the Heat won so it will be the Heat playing the Nuggets for a chance to win the 2023 NBA Championship.
For the Heat, it would be their 4th Championship in franchise history, 3rd for head coach Erik Spoelstra, and 1st for the majority of the players on the roster. For the Nuggets, it is their 1st appearance in the the NBA Finals so this would be the first for almost everyone in the franchise.
If you asked the majority of players, analysts, and fans, none would have come up with this Finals matchup. Even though the Nuggets were the 1 seed out West, not many thought they would make it to the Finals and they were a little underrated coming into the playoffs. The Heat on the other hand did the improbable and became the 2nd 8 seed to make it to the NBA Finals after losing their 1st play in game.
Who will come out on top though?
It really wouldn’t be smart to pick against either because the Nuggets have been extremely dominant in their run to the Championship plus they may have the best player in the league in Nikola Jokic while the Heat just keep doing the impossible after they keep dealing with injury after injury plus it seems like you can never count out Playoff Jimmy.
The Case For The Nuggets
For starters, like mentioned above, they could have the best player in the league in Jokic. Having the best player in a series can go a long way and with the way Jokic has been playing there really isn’t anyone that can stop him.
Jokic hasn’t lost to the Heat since the 2020 bubble. I don’t think it will be a sweep but that trend of him not losing to this team who has pretty much the same core of players goes a long way. Even more, the guy that will be guarding Jokic the most, Bam Adebayo, has a 2-10 record all time against Jokic.
The Heat *shouldn’t* shoot as well as they have been shooting in the playoffs. The 47% from the field in the playoffs is only a 1% jump from the regular season but their 3 point shooting has seen a 5% jump from 34% to 39% in the playoffs. They were 27% in 3 point shooting in the regular season and have been 1st all playoffs. The 5% jump might not seem like a huge deal but it is. However, it doesn’t seem like they’ll be able to keep that up considering the Nuggets have done a great job defending the 3 point line.
The Nuggets offense seems to be a tier above the the Heat’s. Averaging 7 more points per game than the Heat, the Nuggets offense is like a machine and they have seen all kinds of defenses that will likely help them against the Heat in the Finals. It’s like a machine that keeps going no matter what and even when you think you’ve got a stop, they have guys who can routinely hit impossible shots.
If you’re into the odds and betting, those numbers say the Nuggets will win. In fact, they’re the heavily favored team coming in at a -500 (has dropped to a -450) while the Heat are a +330. That will probably motivate the Heat more though.
The Case For The Heat
If you believe NBA trends though, the Heat should be the favorites to win. That’s because 23 of the last 25 champions have one thing in common. They were all had a top defensive rating and the Heat were ranked 9th this season. That could go a long way for them considering it’s the Nuggets offense that’s the main reason they’re here. Nuggets do have a much improved defense than they were playing in the regular season though.
We keep doubting them and they keep proving us wrong. It seems like the more people that pick against the Heat, the more they want to prove them wrong. With the Heat being huge underdogs, they may fuel them enough to actually winning and making history.
They are shooting close to lights out. As mentioned above, they have been the best 3 point shooting team in the playoffs and it very well could continue. I am not 100% sold that it will but I’ve been wrong about the Heat all playoffs. If they can keep up the phenomenal shooting, it could very well swing things into their favor.
The return of Tyler Herro could mean more than just getting a 20ppg scorer back. Obviously it would help their offense (might hurt their defense a little) but it also gives them some much needed depth. They lost him, Kevin Love, and Victor Oladipo in this playoff run and getting one of those guys back could go a long way and help them compete with the Nuggets offense.
This may sound crazy but the coaching edge goes to Erik Spoelstra. It’s a slight edge but an edge is an edge. For one, he’s been there before and knows exactly what it takes to win a championship and that experience matters. He also is a little better at making in game and in series adjustments and will for sure need to do so if they want to beat Jokic and the Nuggets.
A lot of people think this will be either a sweep or gentleman’s sweep. I do not.
I think this series will go to at least 6 games and be very competitive. Can’t count either team out but there can only be 1 champ and that will be the Denver Nuggets who will win in 6 games and Nikola Jokic will be the Finals MVP.
Rob has chimed in to say the HEAT has zero chance. Every advantage they had against the Bucks, Knicks and Celtics won’t be available to them. Giannis got hurt, Knicks were just happy to be there and Celtics are one of the most inconsistent teams in the NBA. The Nuggets have been cooking all postseason and have slayed giants.
Rob predicts the Gentleman’s sweep Nuggets in 5.