Heat hit the court in Denver ahead of NBA Finals, begin preparing for Jokic and the Nuggets

DENVER – The Miami Heat took the court in Denver for the first time on Wednesday, the eve of the NBA Finals.

Miami will be facing the Denver Nuggets, a team that is still looking for its first NBA title.

During the regular season, Denver finished first in the Western Conference with a record of 53-29.

Only three NBA teams had more wins than the Nuggets this year: Milwaukee, Boston and Philadelphia.

Miami has already eliminated two of those three.

While Denver may be the favorite entering the series, the players don’t all see it that way.

“I think we are not the favorites,” said Denver star forward Nikola Jokic. “In the Finals there are no favorites.”

Jokic is averaging a triple double during the playoffs, putting up 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds and 10.3 assists. He’ll likely see a lot of Heat forward Bam Adebayo on the floor, though Jokic downplayed the possible matchup.

“It’s not Bam against me, it’s Denver against Miami,” he said.

Both teams held a practice Wednesday at Ball Arena ahead of Thursday night’s Game 1.

Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t seem concerned that Miami, which flew straight to Denver after winning Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Boston on Monday, would be impacted by the altitude in the Rocky Mountain region.

“If Denver wants to tip-off at the top of Everest, we’ll do that,” Spoelstra said, adding that it wouldn’t have any impact on Miami during the series.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat speaks during a press conference after the Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics 103-84 in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on May 29, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) (2023 Getty Images)

Spoelstra was asked about Jokic and the challenges he will present Miami.

“He’s very unique,” Spo said of Jokic. “He doesn’t really have any noticeable weakness. He’s one of one.”

Heat star Jimmy Butler will also see a lot of Jokic during the series.

Butler said one way to try slowing him down would be for Miami to work as a cohesive unit.

“Guard him as a team with all five guys,” Butler said. “At the end of the day, he’s a major key, like DJ Khalid would say.”

During his time with the media, Butler paid homage to Dwyane Wade, saying it was he who opened Jimmy’s eyes to what it meant to play for the franchise.

“I’ve got to give a shout-out to D-Wade,” Butler said. “He always told me about this culture and how I fit here.”

Butler went on to say that he and the Heat are a perfect match for one another.

About the Author:

David Dwork joined the WPLG Local 10 News team in August 2019. Born and raised in Miami-Dade County, David has covered South Florida sports since 2007.