The Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat will meet in the 2023 NBA Finals following completely different playoff paths to get to this point. The Nuggets were the top seed in the West, while the Heat had to go through the play-in tournament and eventually came into the postseason as the No. 8 seed. Both teams were able to crush their opponents in the playoffs with relative ease, with no series reaching a Game 7 until the East finals for Miami. Will one be able to make short work of the other in the Finals or is this title series set to go the distance? Here’s how the two sides stack up against each other.
No. 1 Nuggets vs. No. 8 Heat
Head-to-head record: Nuggets 2-0
Overall record: Nuggets 53-29, Heat 44-38
Leading scorer on Nuggets: Nikola Jokic
Leading scorer on Heat: Jimmy Butler
Odds to win series: Nuggets -350, Heat +280
The Nuggets continued to display breathtaking offensive efficiency in the playoffs, with center Nikola Jokic and point guard Jamal Murray leading the charge. Denver’s depth was also crucial for the team, as the second unit routinely maintained leads and kept the momentum of the game with the Nuggets. Jokic and Murray have been historically good, and the Nuggets are healthy at the right time for what seems like the first time in this current era. Can they continue their historic run with the franchise’s first ever title?
Butler has carried Miami’s supporting cast through much of the playoffs, though the bench has started coming to life of late. Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Caleb Martin have been taking big shots in big moments, often connecting. Bam Adebayo remains a force in the middle and now has a tough assignment in defending Jokic. The Heat are still without Tyler Herro, and there’s real questions about whether he will play in the Finals. Miami has been undermanned for much of the playoffs but that hasn’t mattered with Butler at the helm. Will the Heat be the first No. 8 seed to win the Finals?