How The Denver Nuggets Won It All

It’s official, the Denver Nuggets won the 2023 NBA championship, another small market team with all time talent, à la the Milwaukee Bucks. The Nuggets finished the job despite the running joke of how certain teams are favored to win. At no point during this run were the Nuggets in real trouble.

At this point,  NBA analysts have well-documented Nikola Jokic‘s genius level play throughout the playoffs. But placing all of the credit at his feet does a disservice to his teammates. Jamal Murray has been an ideal running mate, and every player knows their role well.

Round 1: Timberwolves vs. Nuggets

To be fair, no one expected the Minnesota Timberwolves to ever be a challenge to the Nuggets. However, with as many offensive weapons as the Timberwolves have, they are always a threat. And to be sure, the Timberwolves did nab game 4 despite a stellar performance from Jokic in that game. For the series, the Nuggets enjoyed the advantage in eFG%, TOV%, and offensive rating. Ultimately, Anthony Edwards‘ Herculean efforts would prove futile against the deeper Nuggets squad.

Round 2: Suns vs. Nuggets

After securing wins in games 3 and 4, the Phoenix Suns represented the closest thing to a true challenge for the Nuggets in this playoff run. They were not a threat however. With Chris Paul missing most of the series with an injury, an already thin Suns’ team never stood a chance. The Nuggets displayed more efficiency, size, and superior depth. Phoenix played valiantly all things considered, but their efforts ultimately amounted to nothing fruitful.

Round 3: Lakers vs. Nuggets

Despite getting swept, the Los Angeles Lakers were competitive with the Nuggets in ways that their previous competition was not. The Lakers turned the ball over less, and had more free throws per field goal attempts than the Nuggets. Previously, no other team in the playoffs accomplished this against the Nuggets. However, the Lakers would only have those minor victories as the available consolation prize. Between Anthony Davis‘ inconsistent play, and a lack of personnel to match up with the Nuggets, the Lakers could not keep up.

The Finals: How the Denver Nuggets won against the Miami Heat

Fortunately for the Miami Heat, they managed to maintain a slightly lower turnover rate than the Denver Nuggets. Unfortunately for the Heat, they were unable to do much else. Jokic completely dominated the Heat, even in their sole win. Aaron Gordon proved to be a match-up nightmare, and Jamal Murray continued to prove that he is not just “Jokic’s sidekick”. The Miami Heat are a sneakily deep team in their own right, but their supporting cast is not nearly as consistent. Coupled with the fact that Denver’s big two is just demonstrably better, the Heat never stood a chance.

Going Forward

It hardly takes a deep thinker to foresee future success for the Denver Nuggets. They are great right now, young enough to get better, and bought in. This future success is far from promised however. The NBA is fast paced and things constantly change. Other teams get better, players stagnate or just have poor injury luck. Regardless of what happens with the Nuggets going forward, Nikola Jokic can now add NBA Champion and Finals MVP to his resume.

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