The wait is over: race-1 in the night between Thursday and Friday in Denver where the fever is very high. Malone: ”We know how to attack their area.” Spoelstra: “The altitude? It’s not a problem, the Nuggets are”
The enthusiasm of all of Denver that accompanied the long wait for the Nuggets does not seem to have distracted the group of coach Malone. The team with the best record in the Western Conference, fresh from the “sweep” with the Lakers, feels ready for the challenge with the Heat but, despite what experts and bookmakers say, does not want to hear the word “favorites”. “We are at the NBA Finals – underlines Nikola Jokic – there are no favorites in the Finals, Miami is a very solid team that plays great basketball. These speeches don’t count for anything, we are preparing for the most difficult games of our career”.
However, it is difficult not to label these Nuggets as favorites, but the Miami area, which has created many problems for the Celtics, will be able to annoy Jokic and his companions. “I think no one uses the area as much as the Heat – underlines Michael Malone – we worked a lot in training to try to find the right solutions. It won’t be easy but I think our attack can do well even against their area. In the playoffs we are showing great efficiency offensively, we have to play as we know how and know that sometimes the best weapon against the zone is a good defense. And then we have Nikola who, with his readings, can also hurt the zone.” Nikola Jokic, in fact, the player who scares the Miami frontline a lot. Adebayo will have to work overtime to limit him and above all he will have to be able to avoid foul problems, with him on the bench a chasm would open in the rotation of the Heat. “Bam is an excellent player – underlines the Serbian – but it will absolutely not be a challenge between him and me. Both we and Miami play team basketball so discussions on individual matchups leave as much time as they can find”.
The obstacle for Denver will be the area, in addition to the character of the Heat, that of Miami could be the altitude of the “Mile High City” which often plays tricks on the Nuggets’ opponents. “Let’s not even think about it – warns coach Spoelstra – the boys are in perfect physical shape, we’ll do whatever the medical staff tell us but the altitude won’t be a problem. The problems will come from the Nuggets, a top quality team that for sure verses resembles us. We often talk about the “basketball culture” of the Heat, but Denver’s culture deserves attention too. There is a consolidated structure over time and everyone seems to believe blindly in the project. Indeed I would say more, if Murray hadn’t done badly I really think that the Nuggets would have reached the Finals in the past too. Jokic? A unique player, he has no weaknesses and manages to do everything with great ease. It won’t be easy to limit him”. Continues to make progress, however, Tyler Herro who seems close to returning after the injury suffered in the first match of the series with the Bucks. “Things are going well – concludes the technician from Miami – but Tyler will have to be patient a little longer. Surely he won’t be available for race-1, then we’ll see”.
May 31st – 10.53pm
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