Right here, right now: It’s finally the Nuggets time to shine
Jun 1, 2023, 6:40 AM | Updated: 10:17 am
Enough with the “Jinxy Cat” promos that run almost endlessly on The Fan. I’m going to give you a well thought out, detailed breakdown of why I like the Nuggets to win these NBA Finals in five games over the gutsy, but overmatched Miami Heat.
What I’ve seen through these playoffs is a Nuggets team that has gotten progressively confident, smarter and more cohesive as the postseason has gone on. For me, the “Ah, ha!” moment came in Game 3 of the Lakers series. The Nuggets went into that game with a 2-0 series lead. Go back to the previous series against Phoenix, when the Nugs were also up 2-0. Denver failed to put the Suns away and watched as Phoenix held serve at home to force a rather uncomfortable, 2-2, best-of-three scenario.
We all know the Nuggets took care of business in the next two games. Now, back to Game 3 in L.A. The Lakers have fought back to take the lead midway through the fourth quarter. The crowd of so-called Lakers “fans” (think any of them know who Michael Cooper is?) were going crazy. Jamal Murray had cooled off after his torrid first half and Nikola Jokic was battling foul trouble. L.A. sensed that was their moment to get back into the series.
However, from that point on, the Nuggets put on a clinic in how to execute down the stretch. Every possession was poised and efficient. Different players stepped up to knocked down shots, from Bruce Brown to Jeff Green to Murray to Jokic. The Nuggets were cold blooded in their play. The Lakers were powerless to stop them and the crowd was stunned at how quickly the Nuggets wrestled control of the game. Over the course of the next three minutes, the Nuggets went from one down to up 12 and the game was effectively over.
To me, that showed how they had learned the lessons of the Phoenix series. This was a talented team who was learning on the fly how to win.
That is a very dangerous combination. This was now a Nuggets team that was already good but now had the added benefit of knowing how to win and the belief that they are destined to win it all.
I like the Heat. They are tough minded. They play hard. They are loaded with underdogs. But, they are not as talented as the Nuggets. Sure, Miami wasn’t as talented as Boston, but they beat the Celtics. Big difference. The Celtics are undisciplined, poorly coached and immature.
Miami is going to find out the Nuggets are so different. The Nuggets have better players, led by the best player in the series in Jokic. But it goes way beyond the Nuggets’ talent.
They play with an identity. They know what works for them. Players understand and take pride in their well-defined roles. This is an unselfish team that doesn’t care who gets the credit. And on top of that they are a hungry team that is carrying around a Rocky Mountain-sized chip on their shoulders from the lack of respect from the national NBA media.
Add it all up and I see a mismatch. Get ready to party again Denver. Nuggets in five.