Miami (Agencies): The Denver Nuggets clinched their first NBA title as a 94-89 win over the Miami Heat sealed a 4-1 series triumph.
Nikola Jokic led his side to victory with 28 points to end the Nuggets 47-year wait for the championship trophy. Serb Jokic, 28, was named the Finals’ most valuable player to add to the two overall MVPs he won in 2021 and 2022.
“We’re not in it for ourselves, we’re in it for the guy next to us and that’s why this [means] even more,” Jokic said following victory at Ball Arena. Jokic also contributed 16 rebounds, while Michael Porter Jr added 16 points and 13 rebounds as the Nuggets ground out the decisive victory in game five.
The Nuggets never lost more than twice in any of their play-off series, ending their march towards a historic success with 10 victories in their last 11 post-season games. Denver trailed 71-70 at the start of the fourth quarter, and 89-88 with just under two minutes remaining, but the hosts would not be denied after they hit the front with a Bruce Brown lay-up. For Miami, Jimmy Butler scored 21 points and Bam Adebayo 20 but they were unable to keep their hopes of an unlikely comeback alive.
Only one of the 36 teams to have previously fallen 3-1 behind in an NBA Finals – the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 – had managed to come back to win the championship. “It was an amazing effort by the team,” Jokic said. “That is why basketball is a fun sport, it is a live thing, you cannot say this going to happen, there are so many factors.
“I’m just happy we won the game.”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone told the home supporters: “I’ve got news for everyone out there. We are not satisfied with one.” It is the fourth major North American sports title in the past two years for owner Stan Kroenke – who also owns Premier League club Arsenal – alongside NFL Super Bowl success for the Los Angeles Rams, Colorado Avalanche’s NHL Stanley Cup win and Colorado Mammoth’s National Lacrosse League Cup victory.