NBA finals preview

A finals series that is being thrown out by fans may turn out to be one of the most entertaining yet

NBA finals preview

The Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets have reached the NBA Finals after putting on an exceptional first three rounds, but a large number of NBA fans did not get the teams they hoped for. The Heat and the Nuggets could not have had any more of a different path getting to the finals, but somehow they are both here. The Heat were a play-in team who lost their first game to Atlanta and were on the verge of not even making the playoffs, but were able to overcome the Bulls and slide into the eighth seed. Miami was able to sweep the number one seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round and eliminated the New York Knicks in the second round in six games, thanks to Jimmy Butler’s Jordan impression over the first two rounds. They are coming off of a grueling series that ended in a game seven win after the Celtics had won three straight games to force a game seven from a 0-3 deficit. Denver, on the other hand, has had a fairly relaxing ride to the finals, thanks to the balanced play of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and other key role players who have filled their slot. The Nuggets were able to advance in faster fashion after sweeping the Lakers in the Western conference finals and an easy first two rounds against Minnesota and then Phoenix. Both teams have been underrated this whole season, and the postseason has been nothing different. The finals that most NBA fans wanted was a Celtics vs Lakers matchup in the chase for ring number 18, but instead, they will be able to see just how talented these two teams really are.

This series is centered around superstars Butler and Nikola Jokic, who have each raised their play and ceilings of their respective teams in the postseason. Jokic was viewed by many as the MVP in the regular season, but he has reached a different level of play in this year’s playoffs, averaging a triple double with 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 10.3 assists in 15 games. Butler has flipped a switch this playoff season after what was a below average regular season for him along with his team. Butler has carried the Heat for stretches in the playoffs, averaging 28.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists in 17 games. He has improved in all three of those statistical categories in the playoffs compared to the regular season. Not only have his stats gotten drastically better, his on-court presence and swag has made him the alpha of the Eastern Conference thus far. As far as it comes with role players, it cannot be understated how crucial they have been for each team in these positions. Denver has had key role players like Jamal Murray who looks like his old self, Michael Porter Jr. who has been on fire, or Bruce Brown and Aaron Gordon who have done the dirty work so far. Miami has also needed key contributions from several undrafted players like Caleb Martin, Gabe Vincent, and Duncan Robinson. These playoffs have been a struggle for Bam Adebayo offensively, but his defensive impact is something that Miami is more than grateful for. 

We are headed for an thrilling series of two fundamentally sound basketball teams with star power and elite-level coaching on both sides. Head coach Erik Spoelstra for Miami is in his sixth finals appearance, while Denver’s Mike Malone is making this his first finals ever as a head coach. It is also the Nuggets’ first ever NBA finals appearance as an organization, and the Denver faithful will be more than ready to host a finals environment. It also should be noted that Denver has a drastic altitude difference, which could be a hefty advantage, especially with Denver retaining home court. By the end of this series, an NBA superstar’s legacy will be cemented, whether it is Jokic or Butler capturing their first title. The Nuggets are the overwhelming favorites as they have been so connected this whole year, but Miami is eager to remind everybody what happens when they are counted out of a series.

There are never any guarantees in basketball, but it is for sure that this Finals will cap off one of the best seasons the league has had in a while. No matter the outcome, we will always remember these playoffs as a wacky year that turned out to be remarkably intriguing.


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