After a searching 8 months consisting of blood, sweat and tears, we find ourselves with two teams - The Denver Nuggets of the Western Conference, and all conquering Miami Heat representing the Eastern Conference.
The Denver Nuggets, are lead by who many consider the MVP in Nikola Jokic and more than ably assisted by Canadian native Jamal Murray. Can we get a little respect for JM who is desperate to shed the "Bubble Murray" tag. He doesn't get the props. I mean look at this (may or may not be an indicator of respect he gets)
“I don’t think I get enough respect as I should be,” Murray told Andscape on Thursday night. “I’m better than a lot of players in the league. Every time I see rankings of guys I think, ‘Man, that is crazy.’ Maybe it’s because I have been out for so long. But if we win the chip, it changes everything.”
I think that his jersey number 27 does not help.
Denver are a large team. Power forward Gordon is wide and big. KCP, MPJ, BBJ, Jeff Green, former Lakers DeAndre Jordan and Thomas "I want a larger role" Bryant (who isn't playing now). What isn't big however is their playing depth. This postseason they have rolled out effectively 7 yes SEVEN players for contributions. It does however depend on matchups coach Malone is looking to exploit. Helps that you have the best passing big man since Arvydas Sabonis as your point center.
I'm sure Denver fans and the ball club alike are happy they are not playing Boston who have Grant "Batman" Williams on their roster. Williams appointed himself as such after a defensive effort against Joker. Batman-Joker get it?
Miami. Where to start. Hands up if you predicted Miami to make the finals even after losing to Atlanta in the first play-in game. Atlantans can with reason claim the eastern conference title.
Denver have Joker and Murray. Miami have Butler and..........Martin? This is where Miami are strong. On any given night, any of their pesky wings can light it up. Today it's Caleb. Tomorrow is Struss. Next week it's Gabe. Then in the deciding game it's Cody "son of Steve and Lorri" Zeller. It's win and lose by committee. It does still start with Jimmy "pump fake" Butler. He's not big, not long, not overly tall or wide. He's Jim.
Coaching wise, Mike Malone looks like he's about to explode each game. He requires more respect from you the punter. in a rock fight there's no other coach you'd want by your side. His angry face scares.
Eric spoelstra has respect. He comes up with schemes and mismatches to give his boys an advantage. He took a rag tag classic rags to riches heat side to back to back titles in 12-13....wait rags to riches? Next you'll be telling me 2008 celtics were a dynasty. Anyway, as one poster likes to remind you, he has utmost respect for the only part Filpino coach in the NBA in Eric.
Denver this postseason ranked 3rd in rebounding according to lineups.com. Miami is lower. Denver allowed on average 1.7 more assists than Miami. Statmuse says Miami average 1 more 3PM than Denver.
Denver and Miami effectively foul 20 times a game.
But the critical comparison - Denver average 21.9 FTs compared to a paltry 20 by the Miami team a game.
HEAD 2 HEAD
Denver 2 - Miami 0
30 December Denver 124 - Miami 119
13 February Denver 112 - Miami 108