NBA Finals: The Denver Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat 94-89 in Game Five to win their first NBA championship.
On a night when nothing else seemed to work, Nikola Jokic, the only player in NBA history to lead the league in points (600), rebounds (269), and assists (190) in a single postseason, came through for his teammates with 28 points and 16 rebounds.
The Serbian international received the Bill Russell Trophy as NBA Finals MVP, an honour that means far more to him than the two overall MVPs he won in 2021 and ’22.
“We’re not here for ourselves; we’re here for the guy next to us,” Jokic explained. “And that’s why this (means) even more.”
The clinching for Denver was a hard effort.
YOUR DENVER NUGGETS ARE THE 2023 NBA CHAMPIONS 🏆#bRINGItIn
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) June 13, 2023
The Nuggets missed 20 of their first 22 three-point attempts and seven of their first 13 free throws, unable to shake the persistent Heat or the closing-night nerves.
They led by seven points late in the game until Miami’s Jimmy Butler went off, scoring eight straight baskets to give the Heat a one-point lead with 2:45 left.
Butler, who ended with 21 points, added two more free throws with 1:58 left to help Miami reclaim a one-point lead. The Nuggets took the lead for good on an offensive rebound and tip-in from Bruce Brown.
Butler attempted but missed a three-pointer with 15 seconds remaining. Brown and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each scored two free throws to put the game out of reach and win the title for Denver.
As ugly as it was, the Nuggets and their supporters could all agree that the aftermath was stunning. At the final buzzer, fireworks exploded outside Ball Arena. For the first time in the franchise’s 47-year history, the Larry O’Brien Trophy will be held in Denver.
“It was ugly, and we couldn’t make shots, but we figured it out in the end,” Jokic added. “I’m just glad we won the game.”
“That’s why basketball is such a fun sport,” he continued. “It’s a living being. You cannot predict what will happen. There are several aspects to consider. I’m just glad we won the game.”
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