NBA Finals Prediction

AJ Tarzia '24, Junior Sports Editor

Entering the 2022-23 NBA Finals, the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat are both franchises that rarely make it this far and have had incredible success these playoffs. These two teams have had very different journeys to the Finals. The Nuggets have had an effortless run to the Finals, while the Heat have had a very bumpy ride to the finals and are looking to be the first eighth-seeded team to win the NBA Championship. 

The Western Conference champion and number one-seeded Denver Nuggets are led by two-time MVP Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray. They have made their playoffs run seem effortless after easily passing the Minnesota Timberwolves, and then a Phoenix Suns team led by Devin Booker and newly acquired Kevin Durant. The Nuggets entered the Western Conference Championship with a record of 8-3 and remained 6-0 at home. They faced LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers who were looking to bring home their 18th NBA Championship title. Although the world would have loved to see LeBron take over and win his 5th ring, they were no match for the Nuggets and were swept 4-0. 

The Eastern Conference champion and number eight-seeded Miami Heat led by Jimmy Butler and playoff star Caleb Martin, who have had the most impressive playoff run in NBA history. After losing to the Atlanta Hawks in their first play-in game, the Heat were facing elimination. However, they were able to beat the Chicago Bulls and play the Milwaukee Bucks led by Giannis Antetokounmpo. Shockingly, the Heat were able to take out the top-seeded Bucks in five games and then the Knicks in six games. In the Eastern Conference Championship, the Heat were forced to play the Boston Celtics, who were a favorite to win the NBA Championship this year because of their star players Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The Heat were able to mount a 3-0 lead on the Celtics and then proceeded to lose the next 3 games. The Heat were faced with a game 7 in the TD Garden with the best fans in the league rooting against them. This hostile environment did not affect Miami’s game and they were able to move onto the NBA Finals after beating the Celtics by 19.

Although both of these teams have made incredible runs to the championship, I don’t think this series will be close. The Heat have been the hottest team in the league making it rain from behind the arch and I’m wondering when the Heat will cool off. I’m predicting that the Heat will lack experience in the Finals because their team is mostly role players outside of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, and these players don’t have the same playoff experiences as stars Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray.

This year’s Finals will not live up to the hype like it has in the previous years. I think that the Nuggets will effortlessly beat the Heat each night and win their first ever NBA Championship. During these past few years, the Nuggets have been a great team and I’m predicting that they will finally get over the hump and win the 2022-23 NBA Finals in 6 games. 

The only chance that the Heat have to compete with Jokić is to have Bam Adebayo have the best series he has had throughout this year’s playoff run. Adebayo has taken a backseat view to this year’s Heat offense and let Jimmy Butler and Caleb Martin do the majority of the scoring. Alongside Adebayo having a great series, Martin and Butler need to continue to have their historic playoff runs. Somehow if these 3 stars step up, it might not even be enough to beat a very tough Nuggets team. But, many NBA fans said the same about the Heat vs Celtics series and they found a way to come out on top. 

Regardless of the outcome, this Heat team has put many of their role players on teams’ radars for the offseason. 

Game 1 of the NBA Finals is set to take place on June 1st at 8:30pm EST on ABC. I think that Game 1 will set the tone for the rest of the series and the winner will have a lot of momentum heading into the rest of the series.