The 2023 NBA Finals is upon us, and it’s an interesting clash as the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat own two of the most team-oriented attacks in the league, both offensively and defensively. Denver has something, though, as they won the season series, 2-0. Who will take Game 1?

Catch the game tomorrow at 8:30 AM, Manila time

HOME: Denver Nuggets (0-0)

Projected starting five:

  • Jamal Murray
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Michael Porter Jr.
  • Aaron Gordon
  • Nikola Jokic

This Nuggets team is coming off a sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers, and in the process, brought the franchise to its first ever NBA Finals appearance, so they are brimming with confidence. Not only that, they are on a nine-day rest and their two wins over the Heat in the regular season both featured smooth shooting and crisp passing. If that’s not enough, they’re also a spotless 8-0 at home in this postseason

In the two meetings, the Nuggets averaged 118.0 points and 34.0 assists per game on 58.5% shooting. During the first encounter, they rallied from an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter by scoring 39 points in the frame courtesy of 13-of-16 shooting and a perfect 5-of-5 from downtown. True to their spread-out scoring, nine different Nuggets scored in that period alone.

Nikola Jokic put up 23.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, 10.0 assists, and 1.5 steals with a 69% clip from the floor in the two Heat matchups. Jamal Murray had 14 quiet points in his lone game vs. Miami this season, but he’s on the heels of an insane series against the Lakers (32.3/6.3/5.3/2.8), so that should be heavily considered.

Lastly, expect the group of Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Bruce Brown to be the X-factors. They have a lot to offer and should be able to complement Jokic and Murray once again.

AWAY: Miami Heat (0-0)

Projected starting five:

  • Gabe Vincent
  • Max Strus
  • Jimmy Butler
  • Bam Adebayo
  • Kevin Love

The Heat will be on a two-day rest on what must have been an extra exhausting seven-game series, considering they were at the doorsteps of lifetime slandering after almost blowing a 3-0 lead. Or maybe they’re fine and mentally unflappable at this point? After all, they cruised in Game 7 vs. the Boston Celtics in Boston, and it was right after a crushing Game 6 defeat.

Nevertheless, this Miami group will continue wearing that ‘underdog’ label and it’ll keep the guys hungry. Jimmy Butler remains as the dangerous figure in a playoff series as he can just put on an insane show when he gets going. He should be in a fun matchup opposite the Nugget guards and forwards. He had 20.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 8.5 assists, and 2.5 assists in two games vs. Denver this season.

Three more Heat players averaged 20-plus points against the Nuggets this ’22-23 campaign – Max Strus (21.0 PPG), Bam Adebayo (20.5 PPG), and the possibly returning Tyler Herro (26.0). Herro fractured his hand in the first-round series vs. the Milwaukee Bucks, and he’s reportedly close to suiting up after six weeks in the IR.

Caleb Martin, Gabe Vincent, and Duncan Robinson all deserve a mention as they’ve all played nicely, but of course, Martin is the man of the hour as he was just a revelation in the ECF, posting 19.3 PPG with a 60.2/48.9/87.5 shooting split.


Handicap: The Nuggets (-9) don’t cover the spread.

Over/Under: The total goes over 218.5