NBA: Nuggets ready for 'hardest' game: Jokic

AFP , Wednesday 31 May 2023

Nikola Jokic brushed off suggestions the Denver Nuggets were favorites for the NBA Finals on Wednesday, insisting the top seeds were preparing for the "hardest game" of their lives against the Miami Heat.

Nikola Jokic
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic calls for a ball as players take part in practice for Game 1 of the NBA basketball finals against the Miami Heat Wednesday, May 31, 2023, in Denver. Photo: AP


Denver host Miami in game one of the best-of-seven finals on Thursday, aiming to end nearly half a century of futility by winning their first ever championship.

Bookmakers have installed the Western Conference champions as heavy favorites to clinch the series against an eighth-seeded Miami side who only scraped into the postseason via the play-in tournament.

Nuggets star Jokic however said Wednesday that he is paying little attention to the betting predictions from Las Vegas.

"I think we are not the favorite," Jokic told reporters. "I think in the finals there is no favorites.

"This is going to be the hardest game of our life, and we know that. We are prepared for that," the Serbian added.

"Definitely I think we are not favorites in this series. I think they're not either. It's just the finals."

Miami are expected to deploy defensive stalwart Bam Adebayo to contain two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Jokic, who has averaged 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds and 10.3 assists in his 15 postseason games this year.

Jokic however emphasised that Denver's strength was in their team ethic, challenging the idea that an individual duel would decide the outcome of game one.

"It's not Bam against me or whatever, whoever," Jokic said. "It's Denver against Miami. Just because I think we kind of have a similar play style, we are getting everybody involved. We like to play team basketball.

"It's not going to be me against him or anybody against anybody. It's going to be Miami against Denver.

"I think that's why it's going to be interesting."

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