The 2023 NBA Finals are finally underway. After a grueling playoff run, the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets have emerged as the last two teams standing, and the Nuggets have already taken the early lead. These two juggernauts will battle it out for an exciting best-of-seven series that will decide who takes home this year’s NBA championship.
If you’re unfamiliar with how the NBA Finals work and how these teams stack up against each other, don’t worry – we’ve got all your questions answered here. Read on to get caught up on everything you should know about the Heat and the Nuggets.
What is the NBA Finals Schedule?
Game 1 got underway in Denver on Thursday, June 1, with the Nuggets beating the Heat 104-93. Game 2, also in Denver, is scheduled for Sunday, June 4, at 8 p.m. EDT. Games 3 and 4 are in Miami on Wed. June 7 and Friday, June 9, with tipoff at 8:30 p.m. EDT.
If the series extends beyond that, Denver would host Game 5 on June 12, Miami Game 6 on June 15, and Denver Game 7 on June 18.
Who Is Predicted To Win The NBA Finals?
Most NBA markets in terms of wagering have listed the Nuggets as the pre-series favorite, and those odds only got better after an easy Game 1 win. Handicappers are looking past the Nuggets lack of Finals experience and instead looking at sheer talent. They feel the dominant presence of Nikola Jokic combined with their Western Conference-best 53-29 record is the best indicator of them securing their first NBA title and beating the Heat’s Jimmy Butler.
Past NBA Finals Experience of the Heat and Nuggets
Not only have the Nuggets never won an NBA Finals, this is the franchise’s first-ever appearance in the championship. Meanwhile, the Heat have been more successful in their pursuit, winning three NBA titles since 2006. The franchise has come close to winning a fourth one, making it to the Finals three other times; they lost to Dallas in 2011, San Antonio in 2014, and the L.A. Lakers in 2020.
Exploring the Different Paths the Heat and Nuggets Took
The Heat and Nuggets have taken different routes toward reaching the NBA Finals. Denver was the No. 1 seed in the West and have cruised through the postseason, including a four-game sweep of the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. They also took out a lot of people’s preseason favorite, the Phoenix Suns, in six games. Thus far, they are 13-3 in the 2023 playoffs.
On the other hand, Miami barely snuck in as the No. 8 seed and is coming off a grueling seven-game series against the Boston Celtics. The Heat built a 3-0 series lead against the Celtics, but then were pushed the distance after losing the next three games. They went on the road to Boston, however, and won a decisive victory in Game 7 to reach their second NBA Finals in four years. Before Boston, Miami beat the No. 1 seed Bucks and No. 5 Knicks in five and six games, respectively.
Nuggets and Heat Season Series
The Nuggets and Heat faced off twice during the regular season, with the Nuggets winning both contests. On December 30, the Nuggets won 124-119 in Denver after rallying from a 117-115 deficit with 2:23 remaining. Then on February 13, Nikola Jokic shot 12-for-14 from the floor and scored 27 points in leading the Nuggets to a 112-108 victory. The Nuggets are now 3-0 against Miami after winning Game 1 on Thursday.