Gay Links – All Posts: The Nuggets are too big and too powerful for Heat in NBA Finals

2023 NBA Finals - Miami Heat v Denver Nuggets
Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The Heat have been a tremendous Cinderella story, but the clock is about to strike midnight against Denver.

The Denver Nuggets were the best team in the Western Conference all season long. And in Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals, they showed why they’re the best team in the NBA.

It’s not because the Miami Heat completely shut down. While some players struggled (1-17 three-point shooting from Max Strus and Caleb Martin likely will not happen again), Bam Adebayo arguably had his best game of the NBA Playoffs. Jimmy Butler wasn’t dominant, but he was impactful on both ends of the floor. And unlikely contributions from players like Haywood Highsmith helped keep Miami close in true “Heat Culture” fashion.

But it didn’t matter. And it likely will not matter. The Nuggets are simply better.

The two-man game of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic is simply too good. Jokic is of course among the very best basketball players on the planet, seemingly two steps ahead of the opposing defense every possession. But Murray’s resurgence coming off his knee injury of a couple seasons ago has really paced this acceleration of the Nuggets’ greatness.

Focus on Jokic? He passes to an open Murray, who is a three-level scorer playing at an elite level. Cut off Murray? “The Joker” has more space to read and react to what the defense is doing, be it taking his own jumper or find a slasher/cutter coming off the opposite end.

miami also went through a stretch where it tried switching the murray-jokic pick-and-roll. that did not go well:

— Michael Pina (@MichaelVPina) June 2, 2023

The size of Aaron Gordon is too much. No one on Miami can consistently defend him, and while Gordon has taken a step back in Denver from the “star” he was in Orlando, he now is the type of elite role player championship teams need. He is athletic enough to defend multiple positions on the perimeter, and because of his frame unless you have a comparable forward in terms of build he can win most 1 on 1 matchups.

The Heat do not have a comparable forward.

And the talent of Michael Porter Jr. coming to full realization is too much for Miami as well. The back issues that led to him falling to the end of the NBA Lottery for Denver in 2018 feel like a thing of the past…

This is an absolutely perfect example of Michael Porter Jr.’s growth and maturation which I wrote about yesterday (link in the RT’d tweet below).

Passes up the 3, attacks the closeout, unselfishly dishes to Nikola Jokic for the better shot, 2 points for the #Nuggets.

— Joel Rush (@JoelRushNBA) June 2, 2023

The Denver front court is too big, too skilled. The Nuggets back court is a near-perfect blend of scoring prowess and defensive energy/effort with the right mix of length to match. They’ve built a core of Murray/Jokic/Porter Jr., and with Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and elite bench contributions from Bruce Brown there’s simply too much for the Miami Heat to contend with.

Jeff Green and Christian Braun are icing on the Denver cake. The Nuggets are primed for this moment – and while the Heat have been a tremendous Cinderella story, the clock is about to strike midnight.

Jimmy Butler is too headstrong to allow for the Heat to lie down. And Miami’s role players won’t shoot so abysmally the entire series. But there’s a reason the Heat were minutes away from missing the playoffs entirely – their performance is too inconsistent to be able to contend with a team that has both the talent to match Butler and Adebayo plus the cohesiveness and chemistry that only time together and a coach with a system the roster believes in.

The Heat have run into a better version of themselves – a collective that buys into a way of play that prioritizes the greater good. And while Miami’s tenacity carried them past the best the Eastern Conference has to offer, Denver is a different beast.

Miami may sneak out a win, especially at home. But when the Nuggets had a chance to close out the Lakers, they finished. The Heat needed all seven games to end the Celtics season.

Denver will not need that much time to end Miami’s.

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