The Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets will be playing in Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals on Thursday night. It is a highly anticipated series between two polar opposite teams with very different histories. The Heat have won many championships over the course of their storied history, but are coming in as massive underdogs. Being an underdog is commonplace for the Heat, as the No. 8 seed had to go through higher ranked squads in every round to arrive in the NBA Finals. On the opposite sidelines, the Nuggets were arguably the best team in the 2023 NBA regular season, and subsequently the playoffs as well. Come Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals, there will be many storylines to watch between the Heat and the Nuggets.
For the Heat, they have to be playing with extreme confidence after overcoming all odds to make it into the NBA Finals. Led by their fearless leader Jimmy Butler, this team plays together and plays hard from start to finish. They will have their hands full against the Nuggets and superstar Nikola Jokic; the Serbian big man has looked unstoppable in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, consistently putting up triple-doubles night in and night out. He will most likely be the responsibility of Bam Adebayo, although the Heat big man is no slouch on the defensive end himself. With Game 1 quickly approaching, media pundits across the NBA landscape are getting their predictions in for the start of 2023 NBA Finals between the Heat and Nuggets. Here are three bold predictions for the Heat in particular for Game 1 vs. the Nuggets in what should be a thrilling 2023 NBA Finals.
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Jimmy Butler posts a triple-double with steals for the Miami Heat
Jimmy Butler has been an absolute menace for the Miami Heat throughout the 2023 NBA Playoffs. If the Heat are going to have any chance against the Nuggets, Butler will have to play his best series yet, which of course would be gargantuan. Fortunately for the Heat, Butler has proven to have a Mamba Mentality, and it will burst onto the scene in Game 1. Butler has had multiple games with over 5 steals in the 2023 NBA Playoffs; in Game 1, he will up the ante. Once Game 1 hits zeros, Jimmy Butler will have posted a triple-double with over ten steals being one of the categories.
Posting over ten steals in a game is an incredible feat and one only players like Butler could accomplish. The Heat have stolen Game 1 of every series they have played in so far, and being on the road against the Nuggets, Game 1 is practically a must win. It would establish the Heat with the momentum they need for the rest of the series and allow them to return to Miami with at least one victory. A Game 1 victory will require a huge game from Jimmy Butler, and he will provide the spark they need with a triple-double that includes over ten steals.
Denver Nuggets' Jamal Murray held to under 20 points
Jamal Murray had an incredible Western Conference Finals series against the Los Angeles Lakers. He paced the Nuggets all series long, and was key during stretches where the Lakers found ways to neutralize Nikola Jokic. The Heat have been stout defensively all playoffs, and they will undoubtedly be keying in on Jokic starting in Game 1. This will force Murray to have to step up again, however the Heat will have an answer in the first contest. Game 1 will see the Heat hold Jamal Murray to under 20 points.
Keeping Murray under 20 points will be huge for the Heat's chances of stealing Game 1 on the road. Adebayo figures to be a formidable defender against Jokic and a lot of the Nuggets success will depend on the play of Murray. By keeping Murray in check in Game 1, the Heat will be setting themselves up for a road victory. Expect the Heat to stifle Murray early and force him into taking tough, contested shots late in the shot clock. After less than 20 points from Jamal Murray, the Heat should be in good shape for Game 1.
Heat steal Game 1 on the road
The Heat have written the recipe for success in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. The first ingredient every time is a Game 1 victory on the road. They did so against the Milwaukee Bucks, then the New York Knicks, and finally the Boston Celtics. The NBA Finals against the Nuggets will be no different; their chances of becoming NBA Champions skyrockets with a Game 1 victory and that is not lost on any of them. This will motivate them into coming out firing on the offensive end and swarming on the defensive end in Game 1. After a gritty 48 minutes, the Heat will have a 1-0 lead over Denver.
Going up 1-0 by no means guarantees an NBA Finals ring for the Miami Heat. However, it does wonders for their chances of securing one, and has certainly proven to be a big difference maker in the postseason so far. Erik Spoelstra will be the first to instill the importance of stealing Game 1 on the road and the Heat players will respond. It will not be a blowout, but clutch buckets from Jimmy Butler will secure a Game 1 win late. Heat fans will go to sleep happy with a 1-0 lead looking ahead to Game 2.