2023 NBA Finals – Game 1 Preview

The fate of the Denver Nuggets will ride on the shoulders of their superstar Nikola Jokic.
Photo Courtesy: Erik Drost

By DaVince “Dino” Wright

Game 1 Info
Miami Heat vs Denver Nuggets
Thursday – June 1 – 7:30 p.m.
Ball Arena – Denver, CO

Regular Season Records
Miami Heat 44-38, 17-24 Away
Denver Nuggets 53-29, 34-7 Home

This season has been a season of “uh ohs” and “guess what”. The Bucks were favored to win the Eastern Conference but were bounced in the first round. So, the Celtics were favored to win the East and lost in 7 games to the Miami Heat. The Heat have shown that they have the fight of a bulldog when it comes to having some sort of resiliency facing elimination. The Denver Nuggets ended up beating every team that the West threw at them. They beat the Suns and the Lakers led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Say what you want about Denver, this team is packed with height, rebounding and defensive players in the paint and on the wing. Keep in mind that the Nuggets have beaten the Heat twice this season. The key for a victory for either team will be on the defensive side of the floor starting with rebounding.

Miami Heat
The ECF was one to remember and it was an “I told you so moment for myself”. I shared in the last article that the Heat would win by 12, but I was off by a bucket; they won by 10. You see, if you watch the game within the game, you would’ve seen Jimmy Butler take over in spurts. The key for Miami is how they rotate on offense, and they are not shy shooting from behind the line, even when they have a lead. Heat C Bam Adebayo will have his hands full from the first game to the last game of this series. He cannot stop Nikola Jokic plain and simple. Keep an eye on Caleb Martin and Max Strus. They will be the x-factors for the Heat.

Denver Nuggets
2-time MVP Nikola Jokic will be the key for the Nuggets. He leads the team in scoring, rebounding and assists. His play will either lift the Nuggets or leave them struggling. PG Jamal Murray is averaging 27.9 points per game with 5.7 rebounds and six assists during the 2023 NBA playoffs. Player rotation will be a huge factor for the Nuggets during this series. Keep an eye on Aaron Gordon, Jeff Green and Micheal Porter Jr. These guys will carry the scoring when Jokic and Murray take a breather. This is considered the year of the Nuggets!

ESPN has the Nuggets with a 78% chance of winning Game 1. The over/under is 219 so take the over! I’m taking Denver by 13!

Final Score
Nuggets – 125
Heat – 112