The NBA Finals are here, and the Denver Nuggets will face off against the Miami Heat in Game 1 on Thursday night. The Heat picked up a convincing Game 7 win against the Boston Celtics on the road on Monday night to set the championship matchup. Though the Nuggets -- who have not played since May 22-- are the favored team, that doesn't mean Miami is going to back down easily. We've seen through three rounds of the East playoffs just how tenacious this Heat team can be, becoming the first No. 8 seed in 24 years to the advance to the NBA Finals.
Miami is also the first team to go through the play-in and make it to the NBA Finals. The Nuggets are also a team of firsts, as this will be the franchise's first trip to the NBA Finals ever, so there's plenty of storylines on both sides to make this matchup interesting.
Ahead of the action, here's all you need to know for Thursday's Game 1:
Denver Nuggets vs. Miami Heat
- Date: Thursday, June 1 | Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Ball Arena -- Denver
- TV channel: ABC | Live stream: fubo (try for free)
- Odds: Nuggets -8.5; O/U 219 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Nuggets: The Nuggets have proven to be the most consistent team throughout these playoffs, but Game 1 will be a major test primarily because of the amount of time they were afforded after sweeping the Lakers in the Western Conference finals. The rest vs. rust theory will be a major storyline to start off the NBA Finals, and we'll see which side Denver falls on Thursday night. That aside, Denver will be facing a Miami team that is perhaps the most well-coached team in the postseason outside of themselves. As a result, you can expect Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to throw some weird defensive looks at Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray to get them out of their game. How the Nuggets respond will be key to coming out on top and setting the tone early in this series.
Heat: The Heat are massive underdogs going into the NBA Finals and they're going to have a difficult time trying to limit Jokic, not just his scoring but his facilitating, too. Bam Adebayo specifically is going to have to do something that no one in the West managed to do particularly well: slow down Jokic. Anthony Davis and Deandre Ayton struggled with the physicality of Jokic, and Adebayo will have to find a way to defend Jokic without fouling. Even if the Heat do keep Jokic in check, there's also Jamal Murray to worry about. It's going to take a lot for the Heat to pull out an upset in Game 1, but if there's any team capable of doing so, it's this team.
The Nuggets have not lost an opening-series game throughout these playoffs and I don't expect that to start now. I also think Denver is going to be the one to set the tone in this series and the Heat will be the ones playing catch-up. Pick: Nuggets -8.5