Nuggets’ new defensive strength finally could carry them to NBA title
Nuggets Take Lead in NBA Finals
The Denver Nuggets have taken a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat, with their sights set on winning their first-ever title. The top seed in the Western Conference this season, the Nuggets are the overwhelming favorites to win the trophy. The team has sowed the seeds of possible success over the past three years, with their shocking run in the bubble playoffs of 2020 being the catalyst for their current success. Since then, their culture has taken root, making them stronger and better equipped than ever before.
One thing that sets this Nuggets team apart from previous ones is their defense. In Game 1 of the Finals, they proved themselves to be championship-worthy, able to survive on defense when Nikola Jokic was off the floor, but also to thrive. “Defense is the key,” said Aaron Gordon, “when we get stops on defense, we can get out and run.”
This defensive speed and versatility is what the team lacked three years ago, when Jokic carried them to the conference finals. But they made moves to correct this, acquiring players like Gordon, Jeff Green, and Bruce Brown. These gambles have paid off, with Gordon leading a defensive corps that suddenly jelled midway through the season. They have gone from having the 27th-ranked defense to being the seventh-best in the final 58 games of the season.
Even Jokic, known more for his offensive prowess, has improved his defense. He moves his feet well and constantly makes decisions for opposing players. The Nuggets are a more versatile team now, with enough defense to be led by Jokic.
The Heat spent 98 days in the bubble last year, eventually reaching the NBA Finals. But the Nuggets were there almost as long, an 82-day stay from which they learned and emerged stronger. They made historic 3-1 comebacks over the Jazz and Clippers before finally falling to the eventual champions, the Lakers. But now, they feel their time has come. “We really felt like we had this potential back in the bubble,” said Michael Porter Jr. “We knew if we keep this core together, a couple of years down the road, we could be right back here, and that’s what we did.”
Q: How many times have the Nuggets been to the NBA Finals?
A: The Nuggets have never won an NBA title and have only reached the Finals once, in 1976.
Q: Who is the Nuggets’ star player?
A: Nikola Jokic is considered to be the Nuggets’ star player. He was named the NBA MVP for the 2020-21 season.
Q: When is Game 2 of the NBA Finals?
A: Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat is on Sunday.
Q: Who are some of the key defensive players on the Nuggets team?
A: Key defensive players for the Nuggets include Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., and Bruce Brown.
Nuggets’ NBA title hopes boosted by new-found defensive prowess
The Denver Nuggets are reaping the rewards of their hard work three years ago, when they made a shocking run in the bubble playoffs. Their current top seed in the Western Conference and spotlight as the favorites to win the title in the NBA Finals are evidence of their hard work coming to fruition. Their recent culture and defense have helped them distinguish themselves from past Nuggets teams, with their championship-worthy defense in Game 1 against the Miami Heat being an excellent example. They were able to thrive on defense even when Nikola Jokic was off the floor, which made them look more versatile than the 2020 team. This group’s jelling is thanks in large part to their deals for Aaron Gordon, former Nets Jeff Green and Bruce Brown, and size and length, with Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. flanking Jokic and excelling against numerous challengers. Head coach Michael Malone highlighted that getting stops is crucial for this group, and their defense is what gets them their offense. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Porter regaining athleticism after back surgery, and Brown coming off the bench just add to their defense. “We knew we had the team because we were still very young. We knew if we keep this core together, a couple of years down the road we could be right back here, and that’s what we did,” Porter said. With Jokic continuously growing and expanding his skillset as a player and defender, the Denver Nuggets are taking on the Miami Heat with all the confidence that comes with a team that truly believes that they’ve put in the work to earn the title.