With Nikola Jokic and Jimmy Butler as their best emblems, the best in the West collides with the one in the East. From 9:30 p.m., televise ESPN 2.
Denver Nuggetswhich will seek the first title in its 47-year history in the NBAy Miami Heatwho will try to become the first champion to start the playoffs as the eighth seed, will begin to play this Thursday the final series of the most important basketball league on the planet. The inaugural match of this crossing will be played from 21.30 (Argentine time) at the Ball Arena in Denver and will be broadcast on ESPN 2 and the Star+ platform.
The Nuggets were, for the first time since their league debut in 1976, the top seed in the Western Conference after posting a record of 53 wins y 29 losses in regular stage. On their way to their first final, they dropped just three games in their playoff rounds against The Minnesota Timberwolves (4-1), Phoenix Suns (4-2) y Los Angeles Lakers (4-0).
Much of the success in these qualifying rounds was justified by the enormous performance of Nikola Jokic. The NBA Most Valuable Player in 2021 and 2022 averages 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds and 10.3 assists in these playoffs, and has an average of 53.8% effectiveness in field goals and 47.4% in triples.
The 28-year-old Serbian pivot built a highly profitable partnership with Jamal Murray, who returned to the courts at a high level after missing the entire 2021/22 season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. They were joined by men with less renown, but who made a solid contribution to the cause such as Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr. and Bruce Brown Jr.
The team from the capital of the state of Colorado arrives at this final with the additional advantage of having had nine days of rest after having swept their series against the Lakers. But neither that nor his status as a favorite blurs Michael Malonethe manager of the Nuggets since 2015.
“To those who think this will be an easy series, I don’t even know what to say anymore. It will be the biggest challenge of our lives”, remarked the coach, who warned that having reached this stage is only the penultimate step in the mission that he and his men set for themselves: “Our goal is to win a championship, so we still have a lot of work to do. Reaching the final is not enough.”
With much less rest time and much less confidence from punters, the Miami team landed in Denver just hours after getting their ticket to their seventh finalin which he will seek his fourth championship (he won the ring in 2006, 2012 and 2013).
Going from point doesn’t seem to be a problem for the Heat, who after signing a modest record of 44-38 in the regular phase had to go through two rounds of the play-in (lost to Atlanta Hawks and beat Chicago Bulls) to get his place in the playoffs. Since then it has eliminated the Milwaukee Bucks (4-1), the best team in the league, the New York Knicks (4-2) and the Boston Celtics (4-3).
The series that defined the title of the Conference This was a roller coaster, since Miami had a 3-0 lead, but Boston came back to tie 3-3 and had the chance to define the key at home. However, the Florida team prevailed 104-83 in Game 7, played Monday at TD Garden, becoming the second 8th-seeded team to reach a final, after the New York Knicks did so in 1999. (fell to San Antonio Spurs).
The leader of this surprising Heat is guard Jimmy Butler, who leads a group of players who, far from the status and rosters of NBA superstars, are performing at their highest level. Some were not even chosen in the draft, such as Caleb Martin (26 points in Game 7 against the Celtics), Gabe Vincent, Max Strus or Duncan Robinson, who experienced moments of glory in this postseason and who will now try to give the last hit.
“No one is satisfied. We have not done anything. We don’t just play to win the Eastern Conference. We play to win everything,” said Butler, 33, who played for the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers before coming to Miami in 2019.
If Butler is the undisputed leader on the court, the brain from the bench is Erik Spoelstra, who has led the team since 2008, reached six other NBA finals and emerged victorious in two (in 2012 and 2013). If Miami defeats Denver, he will become the league’s seventh three-time coach, after Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach, Pat Riley (current Heat president), John Kundla, Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr.
The NBA Finals Series
- game 1: Thursday, June 1 at 9:30 p.m. in Denver.
- Game 2: Sunday June 4 at 9:00 p.m. in Denver.
- Game 3: Wednesday June 7 at 9:30 p.m. in Miami.
- Game 4: Friday June 9 at 9:30 p.m. in Miami.
- Game 5: Monday June 12 at 9:30 p.m. in Denver. *
- Game 6: Thursday June 15 at 9:30 p.m. in Miami. *
- Game 7: Sunday June 18 at 9:00 p.m. in Denver. *
* If required.
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