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Finals Game One: 47 Years

The Denver Nuggets' first NBA Finals game in franchise history results in a dominant victory over the Miami Heat

By Clyde E. DawkinsPublished 4 months ago 3 min read

This year's NBA Finals stands out above many others that have come and gone, mainly because of the storylines of the participating teams. First off, we have the Denver Nuggets representing the Western Conference. For the second straight year, Ball Arena is in a championship spotlight, but this time, it's not the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, it's the Nuggets. We know Denver's history, they started in the old American Basketball Association back in 1967, and were one of four ABA teams who joined the NBA as part of the merger in 1976. The other three teams were the San Antonio Spurs, the New Jersey Nets, and the Indiana Pacers, but while the other three had some semblance of deep success (especially the Spurs, who won five NBA Championships), the Nuggets, well, hadn't.

The team's uprising began in the 2020 bubble, which saw them reach the Western Conference Finals, only to be defeated by the eventual overall champions, the Los Angeles Lakers. After two seasons of earlier exits, the Nuggets got back on track this season, finishing as the overall #1 in the Western Conference, and dispatching of the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Phoenix Suns to get back to the Conference Finals, a rematch against the Lakers. This time, Denver brought out the brooms, sweeping the Lakers to reach the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.

As for the Miami Heat, well, I just want to say this: there's something in the water in Florida. Just like the NHL's Florida Panthers, the Heat entered the playoffs at the bottom, doing so via the play-in. They lost the #7 seed game to the Atlanta Hawks, but defeated the Chicago Bulls to get the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference. This was followed by a stunning upset opening round win over the Milwaukee Bucks, becoming the first play-in team to win a series, but it didn't stop there. After taking down the New York Knicks, the Heat faced off against a Boston Celtics team looking to get back to the Finals, but Miami took the first three games. However, Boston won the next three and had the chance to deliver the NBA's first-ever reverse sweep, only for Miami to put a stop to that. The Heat became the first play-in team to reach the Finals, and the second #8-seed to reach as well (the 1998-99 New York Knicks were the first).

The Nuggets had home court advantage, and they captalized early. The first quarter was absolutely dominated by Aaron Gordon, who I've been a fan of since watching him win the dunk contest years ago back when he was a member of the Orlando Magic. He was in double figures already in the first quarter, which ended with Denver up by nine. Miami would never get out of their hole in the game, which saw Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray start to take over after Gordon fulfilled his end. Denver was up by 17 at halftime, and 21 entering the fourth quarter, which actually started with the Heat on an 11-0 run. Miami cut their deficit down to single digits, but it was too little too late. The final score of Game One: Nuggets 104, Heat 93.

Gordon ended up finishing with 16 points, while Murray and Jokic took over the rest of the way. Jamal Murray finished with 26 points, while Nikola Jokic had a triple-double: 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 assists (the most assists for a player making his Finals debut). Regarding the Heat, it appeared to be Bam Adebayo showing up to play while the rest of the team took the night off. Adebayo had 26 points and 13 rebounds, but Jimmy Butler (the MVP of the Eastern Conference Finals) was reduced to just 13 points. Haywood Highsmith had 18 points off the bench, and shot the team's only free throws of the game. That's correct. The Nuggets had 20 free throws (Jokic had 12 of them by himself), while Highsmith's two were all the Heat had.

So the Nuggets strike first, which is immensely important, as the winner of Game One goes on to win the Finals nearly 70% of the time, though the last two Finals saw the Game One winner actually lose the series. Game Two is Sunday Night in Denver.

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About the Creator

Clyde E. Dawkins

I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also into film and TV, especially Simpsons and Family Guy.

Feel free to follow my social media:

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