NBA Finals: The Miami Heat weren’t intended to be in this circumstance.
Just seven weeks ago, at the beginning of the NBA Playoffs, oddsmakers gave the eventual Eastern Conference winners less than a 1% chance to win the Larry O’Brien.
The Denver Nuggets, who are making their first trip to the NBA Finals, are the club they will meet in the biggest series of them all.
After dominating the league throughout the regular season, Michael Malone’s squad swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western league Finals. Although he failed to win it for a third straight year, Nikola Jokic has once again displayed MVP-caliber play and now has a much better-supporting cast, including Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray, who are both completely fit.
They demonstrated their power in Game 1 as Nikola Jokic served as the nucleus around which the other Nuggets stars orbited. Jokic’s triple-double of 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 assists was the product of a superstar who has all the tools necessary to succeed on his own but prioritises getting his team going above any individual goals.
Erik Spoelstra has once again orchestrated a run at all the marbles for the Heat, this time defying, quite literally, the longest of odds. It will be difficult for the Heat to overcome the greatest offensive big man in basketball history and Denver’s best-ever team individually, but in even getting a roster primarily made up of veterans and undrafted players to this stage of the postseason, Spoelstra has masterminded a run at all the marbles for the Heat.
On the basis of Game 1, it appears difficult for Miami to mount a comeback in this series, but that’s the allure of a seven-game set. The South Beach ballclub will suddenly have the upper hand if they can somehow win Game 2 against the high altitude in Colorado.
They also have one player who, while not on the pitch, has seen all the NBA has to offer.
In his 20 seasons with the Miami Heat, Udonis Haslem, who is both a veteran and an undrafted player—the league’s oldest player—has seen it all. The NBA Finals Game 1 defeats are on that list.