Nikola Jokic Brushes Off Nuggets As NBA Finals Favorites Vs. Heat

Denver is favored to win the series in five games


May 31, 2023

Nikola Jokic is inching closer to cementing his legacy as one of the best big men to play in the NBA, which is why he isn’t taking anything for granted.

The Denver Nuggets made easy work of the Los Angeles Lakers with a sweep in the Western Conference finals. The Miami Heat survived a late-series rally from the Boston Celtics and handled the C’s in Game 7 on Monday.

Denver is a 9-point favorite over Miami in Game 1 at Ball Arena on Thursday, and the Nuggets are -460 favorites to win their first NBA title in franchise history, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Denver to win in five games has the shortest odds at +200.

The prices make sense since the Nuggets are the top seed in the West, and the Heat are the first eight-seed to make the NBA Finals since the New York Knicks in 1999. But Jokic, who isn’t a fan of consolation prizes, knows the best-of-seven series won’t be a cakewalk.

“Who said that we are favorites? The media?” Jokic asked reporters Wednesday after the two-time MVP was told his team was the favorite, per NBA TV. “And Las Vegas, they thought we were underdogs before? That doesn’t seem correct, I think. I mean, I think we are not the favorites. I think in the Finals, there are no favorites. This is going to be the hardest games of our lives, and we know that. And we are preparing for that. I think there’s no favorites, and I think we are not favorites in this series. I think they (Heat) aren’t either. It’s just the Finals. There’s no favorites in the finals in my opinion.”

Jokic appeared to be told the notion that the Nuggets were viewed as underdogs by the media throughout the NBA playoffs. While that might be true in certain circles, oddsmakers have been consistent in making Denver the favorite in the West since the playoffs started.

But the star center did seem to understand to not give the Heat any bulletin-board material heading into Game 1.

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images

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