The most important moment of the season has arrived. The NBA Finals are here. After a great season full of historic moments, there are only two teams left.
On one side, we have the Denver Nuggets led by two-time MVP, Nikola Jokic. On the opposite side, we have the revelation of these playoffs, the Miami Heat of Jimmy Butler and company. Only one of the two teams will be able to conquer the so desired ring.
For their part, the Nuggets have been very solid in these playoffs. Along the way they have defeated their rivals quite convincingly: in the first wave they have beaten the Timberwolves in five games, in the second round, the Suns in six and, finally, in the Conference Finals, they have swept the Lakers in four games.
The Heat, on the other hand, have proclaimed themselves as a big surprise for the fans of the league, since nobody expected them to get this far. This has caused all the neutral fans to turn out for them at this point because of how beloved Butler is among the basketball community.
The Miami Heat have completed a historic milestone after reaching these NBA Finals, as in order to get into the playoffs they had to play both play-in games. Finally, entering as 8th, they have managed to defeat Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Bucks, Brunson and company’s Knicks and the Boston Celtics of Jayson Tatum.
They are the second team in history to make it to the NBA Finals as the 8th seed. The first team was the Knicks in 1998, who lost to Tim Duncan’s Spurs.
This 7-game series has some factors that will determine the outcome of the playoffs.
Battle of stars:
This game will pit two of the best players in the league against each other. On one side, we have Jokic, who is a top 3 player in the league in terms of level; and, on the other side, we have Butler, surely the best player of these playoffs.
Both are in very good shape. Butler is winning games by himself when he feels like it and Jokic is signing triple doubles almost every night. It will be quite an entertaining duel to watch, as they are very different players.
For his part, Jokic is a joy to watch and a very creative player. Jimmy, on the other hand, is a hard worker, both on offense and defense; a player very committed to the team in every possession. But if there is something they have in common, it is that they are two key players in the good performance of their team.
Level of secondary players:
No player can win alone. This has been proven many times in the NBA. Therefore, for the scales to tip to one side or the other, the other players will have to step up.
In the Heat’s case, it’s clear. Adebayo must improve his level a lot if he wants to be able to try to stop Jokic. Miami’s center is playing below the expected payoffs. Others who will have to maintain the good level shown are Caleb Matin, who has been a satisfactory surprise for the team; and Duncan Robinson, scoring three-pointers from the bench.
On the other side, of the court we have some more names. Jamal Murray is playing some very good playoffs, even if he is overshadowed by Nikola’s performances. Another name is Michael Porter Jr., who should be improving little by little, especially from three point range.
Should Tyler Herro play?
We all know what this player is capable of and how easy it is to score. The problem is that, at this point, he can become a problem for the Heat.
The shooting guard was injured in the series against the Bucks and has not played since then. There is talk that he will most likely be available to play in the NBA Finals. The problem comes from the fact that Miami have already found the key to make the team work.
While it is true that he is a player who brings a lot to the team, he also has his shortcomings, such as his lax defense. Spoelstra will have to decide if he finally opts to reinsert Herro as a starter or if he will gradually introduce him into the team’s rotation. This decision will undoubtedly be key to the outcome of the playoffs.
Another differential point is the difference in rest between one team and the other. The difference has been abysmal and will undoubtedly influence. For their part, the Nuggets did their thing by sweeping the Lakers and have not played since Tuesday the 25th.
In the opposite case, we have the Heat. They have made life difficult for themselves after going 0-3 against the Celtics, as the playoffs finally went to 7 games. This means that the Heat have only had two days of rest.
Another factor that adds to the fatigue is something that is circulating quite a lot in the networks. This is the difference in altitude between Denver and Miami, that is more than 1600 meters above sea level. I really think that this difference in altitude, coupled with little rest time, can take a toll on the Heat.
In the next few weeks, we will see how these NBA Finals progress. As spectators, we hope to enjoy the show, because there are two showy teams, although each with their own style. At the end of the series we will be able to see if the Nuggets finally get their first ring in history or, on the other hand, if the Miami Heat get their 4th.
Main image: @MiamiHEAT.