Nuggets become 9th team to lose 1 game of conference finals, NBA Finals to win championship

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Nikola Jokic & Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets.

The Denver Nuggets are now the ninth team to lose only one game in the conference finals and NBA Finals combined to win the championship. Denver is the first team since the 2017 Golden State Warriors to have just one loss over the course of both playoff series in the same postseason.

The Nuggets swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals and won their first championship in franchise history in Monday night’s 94-89 win in Game 5 over the Miami Heat. Playoff teams are now 36-1 all time when leading a series 3-1 in the NBA Finals.

According to a few NBA betting sites, the Nuggets are the early favorites to win next season’s championship in 2024. Some sportsbooks are also showing great odds for the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks.

In the Nuggets’ series-clinching win against Miami, Nikola Jokic led Denver in scoring with 28 points. The 6-foot-11 center became the lowest-drafted player in NBA history to win Finals MVP.

The five-time All-Star was selected 41st overall by Denver in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft.

Jokic passed Dennis Johnson, who was drafted 29th overall in 1979. The two-time MVP became only the third second-round pick to win Finals MVP, joining Willis Reed and Johnson.

Denver Nuggets become 19th team to win NBA Finals in Game 5 while leading series 3-1, third team in last seven years to win first championship

Miami led 51-44 at halftime. However, Denver went on to outscore the Heat 24-18 in the fourth quarter. Although the Nuggets shot a disappointing 5-of-28 (17.9%) outside the arc, they still scored 60 points in the paint.

“What I was most proud about is, throughout the game, if your offense is not working and your shots are not falling, you have to dig in on the defensive end,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.

Of the 37 teams to lead 3-1 in the NBA Finals: 19 won in Game 5, 15 won in Game 6, two won in Game 7, and one lost the series. The 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers are the only team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the finals to win the championship. LeBron James and the Cavs defeated a 73-win Warriors team.

Additionally, the Nuggets join recent NBA championship teams of the past 10 years to either win their first title or end a championship drought: 2015 Warriors (first in 40 years), 2016 Cavs (first ever), 2019 Raptors (first ever), and 2021 Bucks (first in 50 years).

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