Entering the 2023 NBA playoffs, not too many penciled in the Denver Nuggets as the favorite to win the title. After all, Nikola Jokic and company entered the postseason on shaky ground. Count Shawn Marion, the 2011 NBA champion with the Dallas Mavericks, among those who needed some time to be convinced that the Nuggets, indeed, were in great position to handle their business in the playoffs.
Upon further reflection, Marion then realized that there may be parallels between the 2023 Nuggets and the 2011 Mavs. 12 years ago, the Mavs didn't exactly enter the NBA Finals as the favorite to win the championship, especially when they were coming up against the Miami Heat's new LeBron James-led big three. Marion now knows that entering certain playoff series as the underdog isn't a personal slight, as it's the job of analysts to pick which side they believe has the upper hand over the other.
“No[, being the underdog against the Heat] wasn't personal. We knew what we were capable of doing. That’s the problem though; everyone has to make predictions. Every year teams make predictions. Like this year, a lot of people didn’t pick Denver to win it, you know? I’m guilty of that. I didn’t pick Denver to win it — when the playoffs first started? No!” Marion said in an appearance on Youtube’s Scoop B Selects with host, Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson.
Nevertheless, the Nuggets eventually won critics over, similar to when the Mavs dispatched of the then-reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers in a four-game sweep and when the Mavs stopped the nascent Thunder in its tracks during their road to the 2011 NBA Finals.
“But after the first round? I said yes. After the first round and I’d seen what they did in the first round, I looked at the lay of the land and I seen what the matchups were and the X's and O's I was like, ‘Oh yeah they’re going to win it. This thing is theirs to lose,'” Marion added.
The criticism from pundits may be loud, but as the 2011 Mavs and 2023 Nuggets can attest to, there is nothing louder than when teams let their game do the talking.