The NBA Finals recently came to an end in five games. The Denver Nuggets were crowned as the champions of the league and brought home the first title in franchise history. While the Heat did not end up winning the series, they pulled off one of the most improbable playoff runs in NBA history.
Coming into the series, many fans were worried about this being a boring series compared to previous years, however, there were three incredibly unexpected moments that came from the 2023 NBA Finals.
One of the most shocking moments of this year’s NBA Finals was when the Miami Heat were able to steal game two in Denver. They became the only team in the entire 2023 playoffs to win on Denver’s home floor.
Miami would escape with a narrow 111-108 win. Gabe Vincent would step up in the contest and put forth a 23-point effort.
Another shock from this game was that Kevin Love led the Heat in rebounds. After being bought out by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Love was not the biggest contributor to the Heat. However, he did what he could in the Finals to win the second ring of his career.
While Miami greatly struggled to slow down Nikola Jokic in terms of scoring in this game, as he went for 41 points, they made an effort to stop him as a passer. This was successful, as he finished the game with only four assists. It was clear that the Heat came into the game with the mindset of not letting Jokic affect the game with his passing. Throughout the rest of the series, the big man picked Miami’s defense apart and found wide-open teammates on the three-point line time and time again.
Despite this being the only game of the series that the Heat would win, it was very surprising that their sole win in the Finals would come on the Nuggets’ home court.
Another shocking moment that came from the NBA Finals was that the Denver Nuggets wrapped up the series in only five games. While it was by no means a shock that the Nuggets would end up winning the series, many thought that the Heat would put up more of a fight.
Despite Miami being the lesser team when comparing rosters, this was nothing new to them in their 2023 playoff run. Outside of their series in the second round against the New York Knicks, Miami was heavy underdogs in every round of the playoffs. Despite this, they found a way to take down two of the best teams that the Eastern Conference had to offer in the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics. Although their win in game two at Denver was a very impressive performance, it was disappointing to see the Heat begin to crack a bit in the Finals.
However, Miami has been linked to some high-profile players that they could potentially make a move for over the offseason. If they are able to add another star to the team, there is a chance they could be back to the Finals next season and a tougher team to match up against.
The final most surprising moment from the Finals was Jimmy Butler taking a step back in the Finals. While he was still a very solid performer in the final round of the playoffs, Butler was far from the game changing player he had been through the rest of the postseason.
Against the Nuggets, he averaged 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game while shooting 41.3% from the field and 36.8% from three. In the three rounds before the Finals, Butler was averaging a much better 28.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 2.1 steals per game while shooting 48.3% from the field and 35.6% from three.
Without Butler performing like one of the top players in the league, the rest of the Heat’s roster did not have what it took to fill the void.
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