The Denver Nuggets are in the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. The Miami Heat are going to the NBA Finals for the seventh time since 2006. This isn’t the matchup anyone expected as the final battle for the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy, but it should be a fascinating showdown arguably featuring the NBA’s best player, best coach, and its most clutch playoff performer.
The Nuggets were the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference during the regular season, but they only finished a game over .500 after the All-Star break to sow some doubt about their chances. Clearly, the Nuggets were just taking it easy before it was time to get serious in the postseason. Denver is 12-3 since the playoffs began, knocking out the Minnesota Timberwolves in five games, advancing past the Phoenix Suns in six games, and then sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Nuggets are led by Nikola Jokic. While Jokic failed in his bid for a third straight NBA MVP this season, he’s proved he’s the best player in the world during this postseason run. Jokic is averaging an incredible 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, 10.3 assists per game in the playoffs while shooting 47.4 percent from three-point range. The Nuggets have surrounded their supersized playmaking wizard with a team of shooters and tough defenders. Jamal Murray is the Nuggets’ next best creator, and he’s coming off a conference finals series where he averaged 32.5 points per game while exceeding the prestigious 50/40/90 line for shooting splits on field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and free throw percentage.
The Miami Heat break into the NBA Finals with one of the most unlikely runs to the championship series in the history of the sport. The Heat finished the regular season as the No. 7 seed in the East, and had to earn their playoff spot in the play-in tournament. They lost a home game to the Atlanta Hawks in the play-in, then trailed the Chicago Bulls in a do-or-die elimination game for the No. 8 seed with under three minutes left. The Heat persevered to win that game against Chicago, and then went on an inspired run once they entered the playoffs.
Miami knocked out the championship favorite in round one when they defeated the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks in five games. The Heat advanced past the New York Knicks in six games in round two. Miami then ran out to a shocking 3-0 series lead against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, but Boston responded by winning the next three games to force a Game 7. The Heat went into Boston and routed the Celtics in Game 7 to make it back to the NBA Finals.
NBA Finals 2023 Heat vs. Nuggets schedule, TV times, and more
All games can be streamed on Watch ESPN.
Game 1: Heat @ Nuggets, Thursday, June 1, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 2: Heat @ Nuggets, Sunday, June 4, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 3: Nuggets @ Heat, Wednesday, June 7, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 4: Nuggets @ Heat, Friday, June 9, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC
*Game 5: Heat @ Nuggets, Monday, June 12, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC
*Game 6: Nuggets @ Heat, Thursday, June 15, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC
*Game 7: Heat @ Nuggets, Sunday, June 18, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
* if necessary