The Denver Nuggets are in uncharted territory in the 47 years of the franchise since the NBA-ABA merger. Not only did they break their NBA Finals drought by sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers, they are now just three wins away from achieving the pinnacle of team success after dominating the Miami Heat in Game 1 en route to a 104-93 victory. Nevertheless, Nikola Jokic knows that the road ahead of them remains difficult.
Speaking with the NBA TV crew following the Nuggets' Game 1 win, Jokic made sure not to grow complacent even after a performance that might make fans and pundits think that they're going to cruise to a championship.
“To be honest, I'm not excited. I'm really focused because I know what they're capable of,” Jokic said, per NBA TV Twitter. “They beat some really good teams that had a better record than us. We as a team, we are not relaxed. It's a really important win for us especially because they won the first game in every [previous] round. As a team, we have a huge respect for the Miami Heat. Our focus and our mentality is not relaxed.”
"To be honest, I'm not excited…I know what they are capable of."
The Joker isn't satisfied after Denver's Game 1 win pic.twitter.com/wTmg0rutan
— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 2, 2023
Now that is a champion's mindset. Of course, deep down, Nikola Jokic should be feeling all the happy emotions after taking a 1-0 series lead in the 2023 NBA Finals. But the Nuggets, of all teams, would know that a playoff series isn't over until one team wins four games.
The Heat, given how well-coached they are and how even-keeled they will be even after this loss, will be back with a vengeance in Game 2. It's a near certainty that they will be attacking the paint with reckless abandon, given how historically allergic they were to the charity stripe in Game 1. Jimmy Butler will also be itching to bounce back, as he put up a rather pedestrian 13 points on 6-14 shooting from the field.
But the Nuggets, especially Nikola Jokic, have not come this far without being prepared for anything the opposition throws their way. And in Game 2, given the mindset of the two-time MVP, expect the Nuggets to meet whatever effort level the Heat come out of the Ball Arena locker room with.