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2023 NBA Finals: Ranking the 10 Best Players in Nuggets vs.Heat Series
- The Denver Nuggets are the last team standing in the NBA
- They defeated the Miami Heat in five games to win their first-ever NBA title
- Sports Brief has ranked the top 10 from both teams after Game 5
The 2023 NBA Finals is over. After a bruising three rounds in the postseason, the Denver Nuggets came out on top to lift the Larry O'Brien NBA trophy.
The Nuggets had the best player in Nikola Jokic, while Heat had Jimmy Butler, the biggest story from the 2023 playoffs.
The Nuggets easily dispatched the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round, the Phoenix Suns in the semifinals, then swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals.
The Heat are on a fairytale run in the postseason. They stunned favorites, the Milwaukee Bucks, in the first round and beat the New York Knicks in six games in the semifinals before defeating the Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Heat were underdogs in the finals, and even with talents like Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro, the Nuggets were much better than them. The Heat won only one game, Game 2.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets had two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray in their ranks.
Sports Brief looks at the top 10 players in the finals:
2023 NBA Finals: Ranking top 10 players
10. Michale Porter Jr - Denver Nuggets
Porter has often been criticized for his weak defensive performances in the playoffs, but he's improved drastically this season. In the last few seasons, Porter has welcomed being a role player and has shown the willingness to impact the game without having to take many shots, per Bleacher Report. After having a great conference finals, he regressed in the finals. He averaged 9.6 points on 32.8% shooting from the field and a dismal 14.3 from three-point range.
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9. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - Denver Nuggets
Pope is arguably the best perimeter defender left in the playoffs. His performances in the finals were okay. The 2020 champion averaged 7.4 points, but most of the good things he did in the five games cannot be seen on the stat sheet. He is now a two-time NBA champion.
8. Kyle Lowry - Miami Heat
Lowry was not fully healthy, but in the 29.2 minutes he played per game, he averaged 10.8 points per game on 42.5 shooting from the floor and 42.3 from three. However, as one of the experienced players, Lowry failed to live up to the expectations.
7. Gabe Vincent - Miami Heat
Vincent was one of the few consistent players for the Heat in the finals and was probably the third-best after Butler and Adebayo. He averaged 11.4 points, and he played his role well. With Max Strus and Martin struggling, Vincent rose to the occasion when called upon.
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6. Bruce Brown - Denver Nuggets
Brown was one of the stories of the playoffs. He made big plays in the finals, especially in Game 4. With Jokic on the bench because of foul trouble, Brown stepped up and scored 11 of his 21 points to help secure the Nuggets' 108-95 victory. He is making just $6.5 million this season, a deal that has a player option for next season, per CBS Sports. He is expected to decline that to get a better deal that he deserved because he was a key player for the Nuggets in the playoffs.
5. Aaron Gordon - Denver Nuggets
Gordon, playing in his first NBA finals, was incredible as he stepped up when the Nuggets needed him. In Game 4, with Jokic in foul trouble, He scored 27 points which gave them a win and a commanding 3-1 series lead. He shot 60.4% from the field and 55.6 from three in the finals.
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4. Bam Adebayo - Miami Heat
Adebayo is one of the best defenders in the NBA, and his four consecutive All-Defensive team selections are evidence. He silenced many doubters in the finals. He not only took the job of defending Jokic in the five games but also scoring. He averaged 21.8 points but struggled to contain Jokic in the series. He finally showed he can do it on the biggest stage.
3. Jimmy Butler - Miami Heat
Butler was the talk of the town in the early rounds of the playoffs. He single-handily took down favorites Milwaukee in the first round in five games. He scored 56 and 42 in Games 4 and 5 to knock out Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. He has slowed down significantly in the postseason. He was underwhelming in the finals. In the five games, he had 21.6 points and was outplayed by Murray. Adebayo also had better points per game than Butler, who was still an important player for the Heat.
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2. Jamal Murray - Denver Nuggets
With Jokic taking all the headlines, Murray has gone under the radar in the playoffs. He has taken his game to another level. He averaged 21.4 points per game in the finals and 26.1 in 20 playoff games. He shot 45.1% from the floor and 38.7% from three-point range in the finals. He was brilliant throughout the postseason and even carried the Nuggets when they needed him.
1. Nikola Jokic - Denver Nuggets
Jokic is the best player in basketball. He's been nothing short of spectacular in the playoffs averaging 30.0 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists in 20 playoff games. He averaged 30.2 points in the finals, which earned him the Finals MVP. The two-time MVP was a problem for the Heat. Erik Spoelstra's team did not find a way to slow him down, especially since he can do everything.
Nuggets vs. Heat preview
Sports Brief earlier previewed the 2023 NBA Finals between the Heat and the Nuggets and highlighted the schedule, previous matchups, and key players.
Denver swept the regular season series against Miami for the third consecutive year after beating them 112-108 in February
Jokic and Murray and Nugget6s's key players, while Butler and Martin are Heat's important players.