Nikola Jokic led Denver to its first NBA title Monday night, overcoming poor shooting and a late burst from Miami's Jimmy Butler to win Game 5 94-89.
Jokic won the NBA Finals MVP with 28 points and 16 rebounds for the Nuggets.
He saved the Nuggets by shooting 12 for 16 on a night when no one else could score. Denver won the series at home despite missing 20 of its first 22 3-point attempts and seven of its first 13 free throws.
Butler scored eight straight points to give the Heat an 87-86 lead with 2:45 left after trailing by seven. He added two free throws with 1:58 left to give Miami a one-point lead. Bruce Brown's offensive rebound and tip-in put the Nuggets ahead for good.
Butler missed a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left, down by three. Denver won with two free throws from Brown.
The Nuggets and their fans agreed the aftermath was lovely after this terrible, chaotic game. Denver hosts the Larry O'Brien Trophy for the first time in its 47-year history.
"It was ugly and we couldn't make shots, but at the end we figured it out," Jokic added. "Just glad we won."
As Erik Spoelstra promised, the Heat were tough and determined. They also shot poorly. Bam Adebayo scored 20, but the Heat shot 34% from the floor and 25% from 3. Butler was 2–13 for eight points before his hot streak.
The Heat, the second No. 8 seed to reach the finals, said they weren't interested in consolation prizes.
They played like they expected to win, and for a spell in this ground-based game, it appeared like they might.
The Nuggets shot 18% from three, down from 37.6% in the series. 14 turnovers. While Denver was securing the win, Brown and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were 4 for 4 from the line.
Jokic joined Aaron Gordon on the bench after his second foul with 2:51 left in the first quarter.
The Nuggets remained tentative on both ends for the rest of the half. After hitting 6.7% from 3—the worst first half in finals ever (10-shot minimum)—they trailed by seven.
Fuel your body and mind with the power of nutritious food. Embrace a healthy lifestyle, explore delicious recipes, and make informed choices that will lead to a vibrant and energetic life. Start your journey to a healthier you today!