NBA Finals Preview


The National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals will provide an enticing ending to a hectic playoff season, with the Miami Heat facing off against the Denver Nuggets. These two teams have told quite different stories this year. While the Nuggets are the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, the Heat are the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. This was not a series that many would have expected to see.

The Nuggets have been steady and in control throughout this year’s playoffs, not trailing in any series thus far. Despite playing their starters heavy minutes and only using two to three players off the bench, the Nuggets have rolled through their competition. Nikola Jokic has been nothing less than dominant, averaging a triple-double (29.9 points per game, 13.3 rebounds per game, and 10.3 assists per game) in the postseason. They have five other players also averaging double digits points, including Jamal Murray with 27.7 points per game.

In the first round, Denver quickly went up 3-0 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, eventually ending the series in Game 5. The star-studded Phoenix Suns had the series tied 2-2 against Denver in the second round, but the Nuggets never seemed worried or in jeopardy of their season-ending. Instead, Denver blew out their opponents in the next two games to move on to the Western Conference Finals.


With a spot in the NBA Finals on the line, the Nuggets were most impressive. They swept LeBron James’s Los Angeles Lakers, also getting themselves much-needed rest ahead of the final round.

On the other side is the second-ever eighth seed to make the NBA Finals, the Heat. Miami has been the story of the playoffs. They lost the first play-in game against the Atlanta Hawks, and their season almost ended prematurely against the Chicago Bulls in the next one. Once earning their spot in the playoffs, though, the Heat did not look back. Behind incredible performances by Jimmy Butler, they beat the East’s No. 1 seed, the Milwaukee Bucks, in five games, following up that remarkable upset by defeating the New York Knicks in six.


The next series, the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics, may go down as one of the most memorable ever. Against all odds, the Heat went up 3-0 against the reigning conference champions. However, the Celtics came storming back, evening the series at 3-3. Many believed that the Celtics would complete the first comeback from three games down in NBA Playoffs history, but the Heat went into Boston in Game 7 and dominated all facets of the game to earn their spot in the NBA Finals.

Undoubtedly, this year’s NBA Finals has its fair share of storylines and drama as Game 1 gets underway on June 1. While both teams have shown their strength throughout this playoffs, the Nuggets are definitely to be favored. Jokic and Murray have been brilliant, and the surrounding cast of Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Bruce Brown are providing extremely valuable help. 

Yet, the Heat will have a chance as long as their group of undrafted players — Caleb Martin, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, and Duncan Robinson — continue to support Butler and produce as they have recently. In addition, impactful guard Tyler Herro, who has missed the past 17 games due to injury, will likely be making his return as well. However, Bam Adebayo may end up being the most important player in this series for the Heat, as they will rely on him to limit the production of Jokic. 

Ultimately, I believe the Nuggets will take the crown as the new NBA champions. As the team with the better regular season record, they start the series at home, where they have not lost throughout the playoffs, and get the opportunity to earn an essential early lead. While Jokic may not have won the NBA Most Valuable Player award this year, he gets the Finals MVP and Larry O’Brien Trophy instead.


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Tyronn Lue, NBA
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