Nuggets ‘Desperate’ For NBA Finals Closeout Win vs. Heat

Denver Nuggets, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

If the Denver Nuggets win Game 5 of the 2023 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat on June 12, they will be NBA champions for the first time in franchise history.

Players always talk about how closeout games are the hardest ones to win in the NBA, which is why Nuggets head coach Michael Malone wants his guys to play with a sense of desperation in Game 5.

“My biggest concern going into any closeout game is human nature and fighting against that,” Malone said. “Most teams, when you’re up 3-1, they come up for air. They relax and they just kind of take it for granted that, oh, we’re going to win this. We know anything is possible [down 3-1]. That’s why my message to our team was our approach has to be we are down 3-1. They are desperate. We have to be more desperate. They are hungry. We have to be hungrier.”

The Nuggets responded well after losing Game 2 at home by winning Games 3 and 4 on the road in Miami. Superstar center Nikola Jokic, who will likely win the Finals MVP Award if Denver wins the title, is approaching Game 5 with a must-win mindset.

NBA NEWS & FINALS: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets, Jimmy Butler & Miami Heat Updates

“We are going to approach it as a must-win game,” Jokic said. “I know it’s a big opportunity, and I think everybody knows. By reflection of the practice today, how everybody was locked in, I think we are going to be ready.”

Jokic is averaging 30.8 points, 13.5 rebounds and 8.0 assists in the Finals while shooting 55.0% from the field, 43.8% from beyond the arc and 87.5% from the free-throw line. The two-time MVP believes Game 5 will be an emotional atmosphere in Denver.

NBA NEWS & FINALS: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets, Jimmy Butler & Miami Heat Updates

“I think it’s not going to be emotional,” Jokic said. “It’s going to be a job that we need to do to be done. I think we are ready. I think we are going to be locked in and ready to go. It’s just going to be a game that we need to win.”

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