BODY AND SOLE: NBA Finals: Gold versus fire

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MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 31 May) – Now that there are only two teams left standing for the 2023 NBA crown, the question will be, “Will the Nuggets shine or will they melt under the Heat?”

After the Miami Heat left analysts stunned and embarrassed by routing the Boston Celtics (my favorite team, by the way) in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals many are probably reconsidering where to place their bets for the finals. Their victory may have also made the Denver Nuggets go back to their drawing board.

But judging from what happened in Game 7, the Heat could be overrated going into the finals. Things could have turned in favor of the Celtics had Jason Tatum not sprained his ankle landing on Miami’s Gabe Vincent’s foot on the first play.

Besides, the Heat are handicapped by the absence of Tyler Herro. Jimmy Butler needs a backup in the scoring chores. Can Caleb Martin sustain his sterling performance during the penultimate game against Boston? As for Bam Adebayo, he is inconsistent in defense.

One of Miami’s problems is containing two-time Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic. He is a formidable inside presence, aside from having an eye for assists (an average of close to 10 per game during the regular season and a higher number during the playoffs). And, wait, during the playoffs too, he made 47 percent of his 3-point attempts!

I see no one from Miami capable of stopping the Serbian. Not Adebayo. Not Duncan Robinson. No team in the regular season and in the playoffs has stopped him. Will the Heat double-team him? That will leave Nuggets’ perimeter shooters open.

Another nagging problem for the Heat is how to defend against Jamal Murray, the Nuggets’ crafty point guard. Erik Spoelstra can assign that job to Martin, Vincent, and even Butler. Spoelstra, however, may dislike the idea of putting Butler on Murray as it could disrupt his main role as an offensive player.

For the Nuggets, they have a man capable of clipping Butler’s wings – Aaron Gordon, who has also guarded the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Durant during the playoffs.

Here’s more: The Nuggets beat the Heat in their two regular-season meetings.

But, as pundits would say, “lingin ang bola (the ball is round),” an aphorism for the unpredictable nature of a championship, an encounter where mindset and determination could turn things upside down. 

(Body and Sole is the author’s sports and fitness column. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at hmcmordeno@gmail.com)

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