DENVER — After 47 years, the Denver Nuggets finally popped the champagne and saw the confetti fly as they captured their first NBA Championship in franchise history with a 94-89 win over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at Ball Arena on Monday night.
The Nuggets overcame a poor shooting first half and used their tough-nosed defense to rally to grab the win and make history. Nikola Jokic led the team with 28 points and 16 rebounds, earning Bill Russell trophy as the NBA Finals MVP.
“We are not in it for ourselves, we are in it for the guy next to us,” Jokic said. “And that’s why this (means) even more.”
“Nikola Jokić is a great person,” Denver head coach Michael Malone said. “He’s a great husband, father and son and brother. And on the basketball court he has proven time and time again that he’s the best player in the NBA. He’s our MVP, we love him and we’re thankful that he’s wearing a Nuggets’ uniform.”
Despite having a poor shooting night for much of the game, Jimmy Butler went off in the fourth quarter to give Miami a one-point lead with 2:24 remaining. Denver’s Bruce Brown and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each hit clutch free throws to seal the victory for the Nuggets.
“It was ugly and we couldn’t make shots, but at the end, we figured it out,” Jokic said. “I am just happy we won the game.”
Bam Adebayo had 20 for the Heat, who struggled shooting, 34% from the floor and 25% from 3-point land.
“That’s why basketball is a fun sport,” Jokic said. “It’s a live thing. You cannot say, ‘This is going to happen.’ There are so many factors. I’m just happy that we won the game.”
Miami advanced to the finals after winning the play-in tournament. They followed that up by taking down the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks and No. 2 seed Boston Celtics, becoming only the second No. 8 seed to make it to the finals.