DENVER — The Denver Nuggets will host the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night as heavy favorites to win at home and raise a banner this month.
Locked On Nuggets hosts Matt Moore and Adam Mares previewed the series on a Tuesday edition of the Locked On Nuggets podcast.
As usual for Denver, the series will center on Nikola Jokic, who is uniquely suited to win his matchup against Heat center Bam Adebayo, an all-world defender.
“Bam Adebayo is a great defender against a lot of guys, but I don’t think he is against Jokic,” Mares said. “He’s a rebound challenge for Miami, he’s a post challenge … he’s a perimeter advantage.”
Jokic has averaged a triple-double this postseason and has games of 43, 39 and 53 points already.
“It’s my personal opinion that Bam Adebayo is the best defender in the NBA,” Moore said. “This is the worst possible matchup for him.”
Still, the Heat maintain their own advantages.
“Betting on them to just start missing shots is a bad bet,” Mares said of Miami, who are shooting better than 40 percent from deep this postseason.
The Heat share the ball, spread the floor, have depth, and have been the best clutch team in the playoffs.
“This is the most disciplined team on both ends of the floor that the Nuggets have faced,” Moore said.
They are led by star wing Jimmy Butler, who has been clearly hampered by an ankle injury but still largely managed to put the team on his back in the playoffs. Butler will present a challenge for Jokic as a defender.
“Jimmy is a hunter,” Moore said. “It’s going to be Nikola versus Jimmy Butler in those pick and roll situations.”
Denver begins its first NBA Finals appearance on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. local time.