Two weeks back, before the Conference Finals were even given their verdict, reporter Zach Harper didn’t mince words and called a possible poster game between Denver and Miami « the worst possible nightmare for the NBA.“While denying a conspiratorial nature, he felt that it would be very unlikely according to him that the title would be disputed between his two teams. A position which will in any case never be commented on, denied and obviously even less confirmed by any official representative of the league.Moreover, it is this duel between the Nuggets and the Heat that marketing managers will have to sell to the general public.
The victory of the great collectives
For a basketball enthusiast, it may seem absurd to think that a clash between two such accomplished formations could not interest the spectators. But the reality is different in a country as big as the United States. Small markets remain less buoyant in terms of audience and therefore revenue. Denver is not as dreamy as Los Angeles or New York. Miami is an attractive city for its nightlife but without being a stronghold. There is no LeBron James or Stephen Curry to highlight. No historic clashes between the great rivals that are the Celtics or the Lakers.
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On the other hand, in terms of the game, on the tactical aspect (less accessible to a wider mass), this poster between the Nuggets and the Heat promises to be absolutely exciting. This should count and be the most important. Because these 2023 NBA Finals have many reasons to pay close attention. The poster itself illustrates the failure of « super teams ». Or, no, rather than describe it with a negative note, let’s say that it symbolizes the success of large collectives. Which is not always the norm in a championship where individualities take up so much space. Of course, the champions are almost always well-built and well-oiled groups. But this notion reaches its climax in Denver and Miami.
Caleb Matin and Jimmy Butler in gara 2 tra Boston and Miami
Credit: Getty Images
The two teams are similar in some aspects. Besides, they are both led by a superstar. Because it remains obvious that no franchise goes to the end without being guided by a player stronger than the others. The difference is that the two leaders in question are first and foremost altruistic men. Nikola Jokic on one side, for the Nuggets, arguably the best basketball player in the world, and Jimmy Butler on the other, at the Heat. The structure is similar in Denver as in Miami: a superstar who is not focused on himself, surrounded by players who know their role perfectly with the emphasis placed on the collective. The structure but also the state of mind. These are two bands that don’t panic no matter the situation. They display a very high level of confidence in themselves – and in each other.
A rather logical poster
But probably because they are not constantly highlighted in the media like armadas like Golden State, LA, Phoenix or Philadelphia, the players of the two teams have already mentioned their status during the playoffs. underdogs ». As if they were not favorites despite the strong impression made for weeks. The outsider label can be justified for the Heat, eighth in its Conference, but it is less explained for the Nuggets, first in the West. And even the Florida franchise is not there by chance. It’s her second Finals since 2020 and she finished top in the East last year, going within a three-point shot of Butler to eliminate the Celtics. In the end, this poster is only half surprising. It opposes the two best teams of the playoffs in terms of differential on 100 possessions.
Credit: Getty Images
Denver has the best offense by far. Jokic is the central element. Everything revolves around him. He can score (29.9 points per game) but he is above all a brilliant playmaker (10.3 assists). He likes when the swelling circulates and when everyone can contribute. « I love when everything is in motion. I think it’s harder for a team to defend when the ball is moving. It’s contagious.“Indeed, his altruism has been transmitted to each member of the workforce. No one plays for his apple but the players of the Nuggets are all aware that together they can accomplish something that is beyond them. History by winning the franchise’s first title From the arsonist Jamal Murray to the versatile defender Aaron Godon passing by the energetic Bruce Brown, everyone plays their part by doing what is asked of them.
It’s the same in Miami. Les Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, Caleb Martin and company contribute by having specific tasks to perform. « I don’t call them ‘role player’. For me, they are teammates“, tempers Jimmy Butler, who wishes to recall that his partners are first and foremost his equals.
These two teams are not the most impressive on paper but they have been built over time, with a succession of intelligent decisions. « We drafted Nikola and developed him. We drafted Jamal and developed him. We developed Michael [Porter Jr] and we developed it. (…) All these guys have progressed here« , notes Michael Malone, the coach of the Nuggets. The Heat plays for its part with seven undrafted players but all unearthed then developed, there too, by the staff of Erik Spoelstra. This may not be the poster dreamed of by the NBA’s marketing department or by the TV channels that will broadcast the matches. But this clash between Denver and Miami is full of promise. Too bad for marketing.
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