The Denver Nuggets reach their first NBA Finals after winning their 94th playoff game — the most prior to a team’s first NBA Finals appearance, in Monday night’s 113-111 series-clinching win against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2023 Western Conference Finals.
It was also the first time the Nuggets finished with a conference-best record of 53-29. Not to mention, Denver’s matchup with the Lakers was its 44th playoff series in franchise history and its first playoff series sweep. Plus, the Nuggets improved to 1-7 in playoff series against the Lakers.
Per multiple NBA betting sites, the Nuggets are the odds-on favorite to win the championship. Check out which sportsbooks are expecting the Miami Heat to defeat the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the ECF.
A season of firsts for Denver….
– 1st time reaching NBA Finals (94 playoff wins most in NBA history prior to 1st Finals app)
– 1st time with best record in its conference (was 1 of 5 active franchises to never do so)
– 1st playoff series sweep (44th playoff series) pic.twitter.com/VPmWW0bbIL
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 23, 2023
Nikola Jokic, the MVP runner-up to Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, ended his Game 4 performance with 30 points, 14 rebounds, and 13 assists. Jokic earned his eighth triple-double of the playoffs by the third quarter, breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s 1967 NBA record for most triple-doubles in a single postseason.
“I think that’s why playoffs are so nice and so interesting, because you don’t care about how tired you are,” Jokic said. “You don’t care about minutes, fouls, shots, percentage. You just want to win a game. Some plays today we weren’t playing good defense sometimes, [but] you can win it in every kind of possible way.”
Denver Nuggets complete first sweep in their 44th playoff series in franchise history, improve to 1-7 against Lakers in all-time playoff series
Denver outscored the Lakers 36-16 in the third quarter. Jamal Murray added 25 points, three rebounds, five assists, two steals, and one block in 43 minutes of action. The Nuggets shot 41-of-85 (48.2%) from the floor and 12-of-33 (36.4%) beyond the arc.
Although the Lakers led 73-58 at halftime, Denver managed to defeat L.A. on the road as a 3.5-point underdog. The Nuggets are 8-0 at home and 12-3 overall this postseason, and Denver has yet to trail in any playoff series. The top-seeded contender is 5-8 this season without Jokic.
“What he’s doing is real… the silly narratives this year are just somewhat ignorant… he’s averaging a triple-double in the playoffs. Have you seen any stat padding out there? Give him his damn respect.”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone on Nikola Jokicpic.twitter.com/O3YdjJZGIQ
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 23, 2023
“What he’s doing is real,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “The silly narratives this year are just somewhat ignorant. He’s averaging a triple-double in the playoffs. Have you seen any stat padding out there? Give him his damn respect.”
Through 15 starts this postseason, Jokic is averaging 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, 10.3 assists, 1.1 steals, and 38.9 minutes per game. The five-time All-Star is also shooting 53.8% from the field and a career-best 47.4% outside the arc. He’s 15 points shy (449) of tying his playoff record (464) for most points scored in a single postseason.
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Source: Basketball Insider