The Denver Nuggets staved off a Miami Heat surge to stand atop the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals for the first time since the franchise’s inception.
The Nuggets defeated the Heat 94-89 in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series to determine the 2022-23 NBA championship at PepsiCo Arena in Denver, Colorado, USA, on Wednesday night. With the win, the Nuggets improved to 4-1 in the best-of-seven series and won their first National Basketball Association championship in 56 years since the franchise was founded in 1967.
Denver was a playoffs (PO) regular during its time in the American Basketball Association (ABA), but never won a championship. They didn’t even make the Finals after moving to the NBA in 1976. After a lackluster run in the early to mid-2010s, the Nuggets slowly began to take shape as a contender with the addition of Serbian center Nikola Jokic in 2015 and Jamal Murray in 2016. In 2018-19, the Nuggets returned to the POs for the first time in seven seasons and have been a consistent tournament contender ever since.
This season, they continued their dominance in the regular season. As the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, Denver defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves (4 games to 1), Phoenix Suns (4 games to 2), and LA Lakers (4 games to 4) in the PO, and then battled the No. 8 seed Miami in the Eastern Conference for the title. Denver was swept in Game 2 of the Finals at home, but took both games on the road to take a 3 games to 1 advantage and eventually won the NBA crown.
Jokic was one of the main reasons for the Nuggets’ success. Jokic averaged 30.2 points, 14 rebounds, and 7.2 assists in Game 5 of the Finals, and was unanimously voted Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) by the NBA’s 11 voting members. According to ESPN, Jokic is the lowest draft pick (41st overall) among all-time Finals MVPs. The previous record was held by 1979 Finals MVP Dennis Johnson (29th overall).
Yokic also became the sixth non-U.S.-born player to be named Final MVP, joining Yannis Adetokunbo (2021-Greece), Dirk Nowitzki (2011-Germany), Tony Parker (2007-France), Tim Duncan (1999-2003-2005-Virgin Islands) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1994-1995-Nigeria).
“Our job is done,” Jokic told a local broadcaster after the win. Now we can go home and rest. Basketball is a team sport. If it wasn’t for my teammates, I wouldn’t have won.” 메이저사이트
Jokic continued his dominance with 28 points and 16 rebounds. After trailing 44-51 at halftime, Denver rallied in the third quarter with Jokic’s dunks and free throws, and Murray’s three-pointer tied the game at 60-60. Early in the fourth quarter, four straight points from Jokic and a two-pointer from Murray made it 81-76. Miami got back into the game on back-to-back 3-pointers by Jimmy Butler, but Denver answered with baskets by Jokic and Brown to put the game out of reach once again. Michael Porter Jr. paced the Nuggets with 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Murray added 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.