We are finally on the doorstep of the 2023 NBA Finals — a historic showdown between the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat. This is the first time ever that the Nuggets and the Heat are squaring off in the Finals. Yet, the two had such contrasting journeys on their way to the Finals.

The Nuggets were essentially expected to be here. Denver finished as the No. 1 seed in the West. They dominated whoever was on their path to the Finals. They defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves in a convincing five-game series in round one and then took down Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and the Phoenix Suns in the conference semi-finals. Then, Nikola Jokic and co. capped off their path-to-the-Finals journey by sweeping LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

The Heat, meanwhile, were not. Nobody anticipated an 8th seed to go all the way to the Finals. But they did it. And they faced the toughest of roads to get there. Miami shocked the world and took down the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, then beat the No. 5-seeded New York Knicks in the next. They went up 3-0 over the heavily-favored Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals but came so close to the most massive collapse in NBA history when Boston won three straight and brought the series back to Boston for a Game 7. Yet, Jimmy Butler and Co. overcame perhaps the most pressurized game in Heat history with that Game 7 win to book their ticket versus Denver.

This year's Finals certainly have the ingredients to be an epic showdown. With that said, here are the biggest must-watch storylines for the Nuggets-Heat NBA Finals.

1. Unfinished business from that incident

We have to start it off with this one. Denver and Miami have some unfinished business from the Jokic-Markieff Morris incident in 2021. For context, the two-time MVP didn't particularly like Morris giving him a forearm shiver foul during a game. The Serbian center retaliated and shoved Morris from behind. This actually forced Morris out of action for several months due to a neck injury.

This led to a fracas on the court between the Nuggets and the Heat. It eventually gave birth to this classic photo of the Heat players waiting for Jokic outside the Nuggets locker room.

That incident even led to more drama and even involved Jokic's brothers. The Jokic twins made a social media account to troll the Heat and even made the trip to Miami in their next regular season matchup that season.

While we love the Never Boring Association, Jimmy Butler recently confirmed he doesn't have any beef with The Joker. But we'll see if there are any lingering effects from that altercation between the Nuggets and the Heat when Game 1 tips off Thursday night.

2. So much history if either team wins

By all accounts, this is going to be a historic championship if either team wins. Legacies will also be elevated on both sides.

The Nuggets have already made history with their first Finals appearance and a championship would end Denver's quest for its first title since it entered the NBA in 1976.

Meanwhile, a Heat win would make them the first 8th seed to win a championship. Like Denver, Miami's run to the Finals is already historic. They became just the second 8th seed to make the Finals.

3. The two MVP's of the playoffs are facing off

There is no question that Nikola Jokic and Jimmy Butler are the two MVPs of this postseason.

Jokic is averaging nearly 30 points a game in these playoffs to go along with 13 rebounds and 10 assists while shooting nearly 54 percent from the field and 47 percent from beyond the arc. Those are insane numbers to put up, especially with the type of defensive coverage other teams are putting up against him.

Meanwhile, Butler was a house on fire to start the postseason when his 56-point masterclass in Game 4 and similarly epic 42-point explosion in Game 5 of the Bucks series ended the East's top seed in five games. He then led Miami to three straight wins to open the Eastern Conference Finals. Though he slowed down a bit when Boston rattled off three consecutive wins to force a Game 7, Butler did bounce back with 28 points to lead the Heat in the decider.

Both superstars have been nothing short of spectacular in the postseason.

4. How do the Heat slow down Nikola Jokic?

If we're being real, there's no way Miami can stop Nikola Jokic. Anthony Davis and the Lakers couldn't even get a game off him this postseason. Bam Adebayo will unfortunately have the daunting task of trying to slow down the two-time MVP. Throughout his career, Jokic has averaged 22.2 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 6.8 assists in 12 games against Adebayo. Since his MVP season in 2021, Jokic has recorded three triple-doubles, including one this season, against the Heat center.

It's safe to say that Adebayo alone won't be able to stop Joker. It will be interesting to see what kind of defensive schemes the Heat come up with against the two-time MVP. Miami could look to double Jokic, or give him different looks on the defensive side of the floor. Perhaps Miami will utilize Kevin Love to matchup with Jokic to make Adebayo a free roamer on defense, much like the Lakers did with Anthony Davis.

5. How do the Nuggets slow down Playoff Jimmy Butler?

On the other side, how does Denver slow down Playoff Jimmy Butler. Looking at their roster, the Nuggets have a lot more bodies to throw at Butler. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope should get the first crack at Butler. While KCP is a terrific on-ball defender, the Heat superstar has a clear size advantage over him and will look to take him down on the block.

Denver could also put Aaron Gordon on Butler. The burly 6-foot-8 Gordon, meanwhile, has the edge in size over Butler, but the Marquette standout will have the quickness advantage and could simply beat him at the rim, where the Nuggets don't have much resistance as Jokic isn't much of a rim protector.

The Nuggets could force the ball out of Butler's hands by bringing in early double-teams and making him more of a playmaker. Butler has shown some tendency to be passive at times and rely too much on his teammates, just as we saw in glimpses during the Eastern Conference Finals.