(CNN) — The Denver Nuggets are NBA champions for the first time in franchise history after beating the Miami Heat 94-89 on Monday in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic scored 28 points on 12 of 16 shooting from the field, along with 16 rebounds, and was named MVP [Jugador Más Valioso] of the NBA Finals. The Serbian center is the first center to win the NBA Finals MVP since Shaquille O’Neal in 2002.
“We don’t win for ourselves, we win for the person next to us and that’s why [significa] even more,” Jokic said after being named MVP on what the championship meant to him.
After early shooting problems, the Heat turned an eight-point deficit in the first quarter into a 10-point lead in the second. Led by Miami center Bam Adebayo’s 18 points in the first half, the Heat closed the first two quarters with a seven-point lead over the Nuggets (51-44).
Denver, which missed 20 of its first 22 3-point attempts, rallied in the second half and outscored the Heat 26-20 in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 71-70 heading into the fourth.
In the fourth quarter, in which the Nuggets led by seven points, Jimmy Butler orchestrated an 8-0 run for the Heat, who went up 87-86 and momentarily regained the lead.
Denver’s bench would respond by scoring the game’s final six points, while stifling the Heat’s offense.
With 15 seconds left and the Heat trailing by three points, Butler missed a potentially equal 3-pointer. Nuggets forward Bruce Brown grabbed the defensive rebound off Butler’s foul and, after being fouled, made two free throws to extend Denver’s lead and clinch the overall win and the 4- 1.
Nuggets player Jamal Murray finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, while Michael Porter Jr. added 16 points and 13 rebounds.
“All the hard work, all the sacrifice, all the dedication, it all came down to winning a championship,” Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone said on ABC’s post-win show. . “But I have news for everyone: we are not happy with just one. We want more. We want more.”
The City of Denver will host a championship parade of the Nuggets this Thursday, June 15.
In the franchise’s 47th NBA season, the Nuggets reached the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference after finishing with a 53-29 regular season record. Denver’s dominant run to the title began with a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round.
The Nuggets’ biggest challenge came against the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Semifinals, where Jokic made headlines after an incident on the sidelines with Suns owner Mat Ishbia in Game 4 of that series. However, the Serb silenced the noise with a triple-double of 32 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in Game 6, which closed the series and led to the Western Conference Finals.
Prior to this season, Denver had reached the Conference Finals four times in franchise history (1978, 1985, 2009, 2020), losing each time to the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, the Nuggets overcame their playoff woes against the Lakers, sweeping the 17-time champions in four games to reach the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
At the center of the Nuggets’ playoff dominance was none other than two-time MVP Jokic, who etched his name in the history books along the way. The 28-year-old had a total of ten triple-doubles and overtook Wilt Chamberlain (7) for the all-time leading scorer in a single playoff game. He also finished the playoffs as the first player in NBA history to lead all players in points, rebounds and assists in a single postseason, according to ESPN statistics and information.
For its part, Miami entered the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, having clinched a playoff berth and an unlikely Finals berth via NBA playoffs. While seeking the franchise’s fourth championship, Miami entered the series looking to become the first No. 8 seed to win an NBA title since the 16-team playoff format began 39 years ago. years.
Political figures and other sports franchises in the city of Denver congratulated the Denver Nuggets on social media for their victory.
Former US President Barack Obama wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations to Denver @Nuggets and Finals MVP extraordinaire Nikola Jokić on winning the franchise’s first NBA championship!”
Congratulations to Denver @Nuggets and remarkable Finals MVP Nikola Jokić for winning the franchise’s first NBA championship!
—Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 13, 2023
Legendary Los Angeles Lakers star Earvin “Magic” Johnson wrote on Twitter, “Congratulations to Nuggets superstars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, to every Nuggets player, to the entire city and Denver fans.”
Congratulations to Nuggets superstars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, to every individual Nuggets player, to the entire city and the Denver fanbase!!
—Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 13, 2023
Other sports franchises in the states of Denver and Colorado, such as Colorado Rockies of MLB, the Colorado avalanche of the NHL and the Denver Broncos of the NFL, joined in congratulations from the Nuggets.