The Denver Nuggets have reached their first NBA Finals in franchise history, making good on their billing at the top seed in the Western Conference. Behind superstars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, Denver has largely been the West’s most dominant squad throughout the 2022-23 regular season and playoffs. Additionally, the boys from the “Mile High” have yet to lose a game at home this postseason.
Let’s analyze exactly how the Nuggets made it to the this year’s NBA Finals.
In the opening round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs, Denver was tasked with taking on the No. 8 Minnesota Timberwolves. The Nuggets were able to send Minnesota packing in five games. The Wolves managed to win Game 4 behind a big performance from Anthony Edwards, but that would be the only challenge. Winning the series 4-1, the Nuggets averaged 114.2 points per game in the first round while allowing just 105.4 points per game.
For the Western Conference semifinals, Denver was matched up with the new-look Phoenix Suns. On the heels of their late-season addition of Kevin Durant, the Suns came in hot with he and Devin Booker expected to present a stiff test for the Nuggets. With the series beginning in Denver, the Nuggets trounced Phoenix in Games 1 and 2.
The Suns had more success when the series shifted to Arizona, winning Games 3 and 4 to tie things up as Booker and Durant both fell into lethal scoring grooves. Still, Denver turned on the juice over the next two games, dominating in Game 6 to wrap up a 4-2 series win. All four of the Nuggets’ wins against the Suns came by double digits.
After defeating Phoenix, Denver advanced to its fifth Western Conference Finals in franchise history. In the past three occurrences, the Nuggets lost each time to the Los Angeles Lakers so naturally, in 2023, the Lakers wound up being their foe again.
With the Lakers roster recently rebuilt before the 2023 trade deadline, L.A.’s roster was much more equipped to support their stars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Fortunately for Denver, the Nuggets took control of this series early on. Despite highly competitive action on the hardwood, Denver’s dominance in the fourth quarter was paramount. In the first three games of the series (all victories for the Nuggets), the Lakers had numerous opportunities to steal a win, but Murray’s shot-making abilities combined with Jokic’s rebounding and facilitation skills proved too potent for Los Angeles.
The Nuggets would end up closing out the Lakers late in Game 4 behind Jokic’s heroics, punching a ticket to the Finals for the first time in NBA history.