Nuggets Conclude Dominant Playoff Run With First Championship

For the first time in history, yes, the Denver Nuggets are champions.Nuggets winning title

It took 47 years in the NBA (preceded by nine in the old American Basketball Association), and a heck of a lot of patience for the current group. But it all paid off, the Nuggets closing the series with a hard-fought 94-89 home win over the Heat in Game 5 of the Finals on Monday.

The official final series count: 4-1.

In other words, the Nuggets have won eight of their last nine, having swept LeBron James and the Lakers in the Western Conference finals.

Usually, when the Nuggets lost, it was because they took their foot off the gas. When the pedal was to the metal, they seemed unstoppable. Before the Lakers, they beat the Suns in six games and the Timberwolves in five. 

Before that, they sat in first in the conference since December — more than half the season.

And you already know the biggest reasons why. It boiled down to teamwork, old-school basketball, and a whole lot of Finals MVP Nikola Jokic.

Not surprisingly, on this night, Jokic was again the hero, shooting a sizzling 12-of-16 from the field on his way to a team-high 28 points. He also collected 16 rebounds. As usual, the man did it all in the biggest game of the year.

Michael Porter Jr. added 16 points and 13 rebounds in one of his best games of the playoffs, and perhaps his most meaningful showing as a pro. Jamal Murray, the standout shooting guard who played a massive role on the way to this title, finished with 14.

Defensively, Aaron Gordon and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were outstanding most of the evening, combining for four steals and lots of effort. Caldwell-Pope also finished with 11 points and three blocks. Bruce Brown added 10 off the bench, including a timely putback.

Meanwhile, not enough can be said about coach Michael Malone, who seemingly made every right move in the biggest of games all season. Malone just finished his eighth year, so give the Nuggets credit, again, for being patient.

It paid off, because they now have a team that will go down in NBA lore.

Of course, nor can enough be said about the Heat — just the second team to advance to the Finals as a No. 8 seed (joining the 1999 Knicks), and the first to make it all the way from the play-in tournament.

Jimmy Butler led the way with a fourth-quarter flurry, finishing with 21 points. Bam Adebayo had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and coach Erik Spoelstra convinced his other guys to play some of the best basketball of their careers.

But these are the Nuggets, and all season, they proved to be just better than everyone else. Now, it’s official.

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