By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
They waited for 46 years and had to win the lottery by picking Nikola Jokic in the second round of the 2014 NBA draft, but the Denver Nuggets finally got their first-ever NBA championship after beating the Miami Heat 94-89 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
The Joker became the first player to average in the Finals 30.2 points per game, 14 rebounds per game, and 7.2 assists per game, winning the MVP award.
He also became the first player in NBA history to lead all players in points, rebounds, and assists in a single postseason.
The Serb superstar finished the game with 28 points, 16 rebounds, and four assists, Jamal Murray added 14 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists and Michael Porter jr had 16 points and 13 rebounds as the Nuggets got the job done in an ugly game.
Denver made just 5/28 threes and 13/23 free throws, but ultimately the result is the only thing that counts with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scoring in total 11 points and nailing two key free throws, making the score 92-89 in the closing seconds. Bruce Brown also made two more (94-89) for a total of 10 points.
Butler was late
For the losing side, Jimmy Butler scored 13 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter but with 5/18 field goals and missed two big shots in the end. Bam Adebayo had a total of 20 points, however, 18 of them and nine rebounds out of a total of 12 came in the first half of the game. Max Strus and Kyle Lowry added 12 points each and in total, Miami had also a bad shooting night with just 9/35 long-range shots.
The Nuggets finished the first half with 1/15 (6.7%) from the three-point line, the worst in any half in NBA Finals history and Maimi led 51-44. However, with Murray making just the second three for Denver the score was tied at 60 in the middle of the third period.
With another three by Porter jr, the Nuggets got their first lead (69-66) since the first quarter but Kyle Lowry gave Miami a one-point advantage (71-70) entering the last 12 minutes of action.
Denver answered back, starting the fourth period with a 5-0 run (75-71) and was leading for most of the last quarter. Things changed when Butler took charge in the closing minutes, giving twice a one-point lead to Miami (87-86, 89-88), still, Denver found a way to prevail.
Jokic became the second player in recent years with a European basketball background to lead his team to the NBA championship title like Giannis Antetokounmpo did in 2021 with the Bucks. The roster of the Nuggets includes one more European, Slovenian forward Vlatko Cancar and there’s also a Serbian assistant coach, Ognen Stojakovic.
The front office of the club has a Lithuanian presence in assistant general manager Tomas Balcetis and basketball operations associate Martynas Pocius.