Home Sports A date with eternity

A date with eternity

A date with eternity

Denver Nuggets has never been an NBA champion. Neither was it in the ABA, where he lost in 1976 the last final of that impossible competition, a crazy car race, against Julius Erving’s Nets. Since then, 47 years with more questions than answers because that’s how cruel sport is, he hadn’t fought for a title. They had been the team that personified the joy of the 80s to the rhythm of Alex English, the one that adapted to the barbed wire of the 90s with Dikembe Mutombo or the one with the media buzz of Carmelo Anthony. It is an admirable, appreciated franchise, already classic in the NBAwho has had a past and a future but who was still looking for his moment, his now, the day that redefines it. That moment has arrived, and it will be on Monday, in its Ball Arena, where the ghosts of the old Pepsi Center dance. After the 95-108 that made it 3-1 in the 2023 Finals, the Nuggets will be champions if they win one more game. Just another step, the last. The definitive one, the now. Her moment, forever.

The fight for the title went down to sea level with the threat of revolution, a 1-1 on the way to South Florida it’s 3-1 back to the Rockies, the Mile High of Denver (more than 1,600 meters of altitude) that can squeeze the last life out of the Heat, and a wandering spirit that hangs a thread and needs an almost impossible comeback. He almost they put it in 2016 the Cavaliers. But they had LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on a suicide mission that no one else has accomplished in the fight for the ring (35-1 so far for the one who gets 3-1). The Miami Heat are one loss away from losing their third Final in a row. Echoes of 2014. Then, against the San Antonio Spurs, he lost the first game, won the second away with a titanic effort and delivered the next three, two on his track, with a very visible feeling of inferiority. Erik Spoelstra’s team, a deadly sin, hasn’t scratched anything in his house, where he accumulates four straight losses since he amassed that magical 0-3 against the Celtics. And he does not win a Finals game in Miami, because in 2020 it was played in the Orlando bubble, since the seventh of 2013. In nine days it will be 10 ten years.

Different script, same result

The fourth game was totally different from the third… but it ended the same. Almost literally: from a 94-109 to a 95-108. The Heat (2-6 since that 0-3 in the Eastern final), as if the spell that brought them here had been broken, they look like a seeds 8. That is why the series has many moments that are reminiscent of what happens in a first round, a 1 versus 8: no matter how much the one who is very inferior tries, he does not arrive. The champion of the East, now it is easy to remember, was also the worst team in scoring in the normal season. In the Finals he has stayed below 100 points in the three losses and averages 98.2. This is not how you win a title in 2023. The triple, the secret weapon that brought him here, has abandoned him: 19/60 in the two games on his court. And Jimmy Butler’s ankle must be really bad, because the forward went from a promising first quarter (9 points, 2 assists) to too many spectral minutes, absent: 25+7 and 7 rebounds at the end, very little for the demand of the moment, for the capabilities of the rival.

The rest was a want and I can not. A thousand attempts by Spoelstra and rectifications that ended up being useless when looking at the scoreboard. The Heat traded the rebounding fight, evened the scoring in the paint, brought the game to a muddy cadence, multiplied the level of contact and threw men against Jamal Murray to avoid a massacre like Wednesday’s. Many things have changed… but nothing changed. The Nuggets always find an answer, a resource, a hammer blow at the most opportune moment. Gabe Vincent and Max Strus were horrible again, so the most warlike version of the Heat, with Spoelstra digging around, was formed around the resistance of Kyle Lowry, the spirit of Caleb Martin, the intuition of Duncan Robinson and the sacrifice of Bam Adebayo, who worked piecemeal but again did not look good enough. The thousand virtues of him clouded by his problems to finish plays, especially in the post and with favorable pairings. The tireless center finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Like his team, he did what he could. And it was not enough.

A champion team defense

Denver Nuggets played a horrible game on defense in the second, maybe too dear to themselves But they’ve corrected it with two excellent performances on the less famous side of the track. In Miami, after losing more than he had won (19-22) at home during the normal seasonhas been uA tough, ultra-competitive, focused and brave team. A team champion. He has barely conceded free shots, he has controlled errors and losses and has taken advantage of every loophole, resisted every push with superiority. The last one, when the 61-74 in the third quarter became 81-86 already in the last one. The stands caught their breath, Butler had a threat (nothing more) of resurrection and Jokic went to the bench with five fouls. There, in the cauldrons of hell that burned Bucks and Celtics, the Nuggets didn’t even mess up. Despite spending many minutes without a brilliant but more humane Jokic (23 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists) and despite a low score (15 points on 17 shots) from Murray.

Spoelstra tried obsessively to collapse the 2-2 game between Murray and Jokic, the key that opens the floodgates for the Nuggets. But his rival had patience and precision, carefully found the scoring situations, cuts to the hoop and released triples. Murray finished with 12 assists, has reached 10 in the four games of the series and averages 10.5 to Jokic’s 8. The signature in a victory worth more than half a ring was put by Aaron Gordon and Bruce Brown. The first, an aspiring teen star Converted into a first class worker, he finished with 27 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists and appeared at every crucial moment, the jug of cold water that froze the last tense muscle of the Heat. He made the triples that had to be made, although it is not his thing, he quickly read all the superiority situations, never lowered the level of activity and made it easy to find under the basket. Brown, signed last summer for games like this, finished with 21 points on the night of his life. 11 in the fourth quarter, 8 in a row from 87-94 to annihilate the last local resistance.

Monday is played in Denver. The Heat will have to search something that until now they have not found within themselves to extend these Finals. They will have to take shots, attack with more rhythm, scratch more individual contributions, heal Butler’s ankle and solve an impossible puzzle in defense, where they cannot tie up everything their rival does and end up bottomless, choose the formula you choose. By the weight of the Super starsfor the reading of the secondary ones… a death by a thousand cuts. But you have to play, of course. In Denver, on the Mile Highbetween echoes of the gold rush and in the night of a lifetime for a franchise, its fans and its city. The appointment is Monday, in Denver.

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