The NBA Finals are set to begin on June 1 between the Western Conference No. 1 seed Denver Nuggets and Eastern Conference No. 8 seed Miami Heat.
The Nuggets throttled the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, sweeping them clean in four straight games.
The Heat almost did the same against the Boston Celtics, but after going up 3-0, the Celtics, the No. 2 seed in the East, came back, tied the series 3-3, before losing at home by nearly 20 points.
According to WynnBET.com, the Nuggets are -380 to win the Finals, while the Heat are +302.
There’s a noticeable gap in these odds and the Finals MVP, where Nikola Jokic is -312 to win that accolade.
Despite the Cinderella Story run the Heat are on, they’re running into a Nuggets team led by Jokic, who’s, frankly, borderline unstoppable.
He’s had a triple-double in nine of the Nuggets’ 15 playoff games this season and scored less than 25 just five times.
Below, we’ll dive deeper into why the Nuggets will beat the Heat in the NBA Finals.
Nikola Jokic Is Unstoppable
We highlighted Jokic’s statistical production this offseason, and this is something that cannot be understated. Jokic will primarily match up against Bam Adebayo in this series.
Jokic is six-foot-11 and 284 pounds. Adebayo is six-foot-nine and 255 pounds.
While there’s more that goes into it than height and weight, Jokic clearly has a massive advantage in this matchup.
The Heat and Nuggets played twice this season. In those games, Jokic had a triple-double on December 30, 2022, and was two assists shy of a 27-point triple-double on February 13, 2023.
In the February matchup, Jokic shot 85.7% from the field.
There’s simply no one on the Heat that can slow him down.
Nuggets Outside Shooting A Problem For Heat Defense
The Heat do an excellent job at playing zone and stopping teams from getting to the basket, but the Nuggets are a fantastic outside-shooting team.
Let’s look at some stats from this postseason.
On shots between 25 and 29 feet, the Nuggets shoot 40% from the field (114 of 285; three-point range. As for long two-point shots, the Nuggets are 42.3% from 15 to 19 feet (38 of 88).
The short jumpers (10 to 14 feet), the Nuggets shoot 50% (48 of 96).
The Nuggets can score all over the court and have Jokic, who will be uncoverable.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Three-Point Shooting
As mentioned above, outside shooting will assist the Nuggets, and their top shooter from three-point range is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. In 76 games this season, KCP posted a 42.3% three-point percentage. He attempted 319 threes and made 135 of them.
KCP doesn’t offer much in other categories, but shooting from three. From the field, he’ll be one of the better scorers the Nuggets have here and could be the No. 3 option after Jokic and Jamal Murray.
Lastly, KCP will likely tag team Heat’s forward Jimmy Butler with Aaron Gordon, which could be a tough matchup for him defensively. Still, KCP should be able to shoot over this Heat zone defense.
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