NBA Finals

Nuggets favored to rout Heat for first NBA title


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Nuggets favored to rout Heat for first NBA title

TOP PICK. Nikola Jokic celebrate with his teammates after the Denver Nuggets ruled the Western Conference.

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets know ‘it's not about seeding anymore’ even as they’re heavily favored against the NBA Finals crashers Miami Heat

The Denver Nuggets had to wait a week to learn who they will play in the franchise’s first trip to the NBA Finals.

After the eight-seeded Miami Heat outlasted the Boston Celtics in seven games, Denver was quickly installed as the heavy favorite to win the title. But Nuggets coach Michael Malone wouldn’t have any of it.

“Well, as I told our team, forget the eighth seed stuff. They beat Milwaukee 4-1. That team had the most wins in the NBA this year. They beat Boston 4-3 and they were up 3-0, the team with I think the second most wins in the NBA this year,” said Malone.

“So, you get to the NBA Finals, it’s not about seeding anymore, and for those who are thinking that this is going to be an easy series, I don’t even know what to say to you people.” 

The best-of-seven series – where the Nuggets will shoot for their first NBA championship in franchise history – will open in Denver on Thursday, June 1 (Friday, June 2, Manila time).

“This is going to be the biggest challenge of our lives. This is the NBA Finals,” said Malone. “You’re trying to win the first NBA championship in franchise history, and it’s going to be the hardest thing that we’ve ever done, which is the way it should be.”

Two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets were picked by sportsbooks as the heavy favorites to win the series, including BetMGM, where Denver opened at -350 on Monday, and the line had shortened even further to -375 by Tuesday night.

The sportsbook also reported that the most bets on exact series outcome was Denver to sweep Miami in four games – with 41% of the total bets at +450. The shortest odds belong to the Nuggets at +225 to win in five games, followed by Denver at +325 to win in seven.

Yet there’s no convincing the Nuggets even after dominant playoff performances by Jokic, the Western Conference Finals MVP, and Jamal Murray. 

“We’ve got the utmost respect for them,” said Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon of Jimmy Butler and the Heat. “They fight and they scrap, and they have no quit in them.”

“They play through 48 minutes a game and more if necessary. They play fearless. They play disciplined. They’re well coached and have some guys that have been there before and have some guys that have chips on their shoulder,” he added.

“We’re not looking at the seeding or the story around it. This is a very talented basketball team, professional basketball team, and all those guys over there got game. So we respect it.” –

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