‘Order your chicken nuggets and let the Game begin’

By Alex P. Vidal

“Technology is changing the world; it’s changing our sport. It’s changing the way people are following the NBA.”—Adam Silver

WHAT is so special with the Nuggets that the team is so popular even among the Pinoy cage fans?

Must the pro-Heat crowd sit down and wait for the sharp blades to chop off the head of their favorite team from the Atlantic Coast?

Even before the start of the 2023 NBA Finals Game 1 at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado Thursday evening (US Eastern Time) June 1, oddsmakers have heavily installed the Denver Nuggets to roll past Erik Spoelstra’s Miami Heat in their best-of-seven championship series.

My LA-based kumpare and former media colleague in the Philippines, Lynon Cortez, meanwhile, has something to contribute to this subject matter:

”Filipinos might root for Heat ‘coz of Spoelstra but I have a big prediction: Nuggets will sweep Heat as what they did to the LA Lakers. Here’s my account: Jokic 2x MVP has the back up of Murray, Gordon & Porter. Nuggets is the # 1 in the Western pre-season and the West Champion after sweeping the Lakers. Back to the semifinals of the West, Lakers beat the defending champ Warriors but got swept by the Nuggets. On the East, Heat is the # 8 and had to force a Game 7 against Boston. On the average, Butler is far from Jokic in any aspect of the game. Besides Heat Butler, Abedayo, Calib & Love are all good physically but not in scoring. The No. 1 seed in the West vs the lowest in the East. Anyway, make your order of chicken nuggets at wings stop before the game begins.”


We don’t have the illusion of tapping our own crystal ball here for the much-awaited championship series, thus we bring the attention of the readers who are NBA fans to the panel of experts tapped by The Athletic that have clearly underestimated the eight-seeded Heat, a most recent survivor in the nail-biting Eastern Conference title match versus Boston Celtics.

They included an NBA scout, coach and executive who predicted the outcome of the Finals with a common conclusion: Nuggets will win the crown in six games.

“Perhaps it is because Miami is only the second No. 8 seed to ever reach the NBA Finals, duplicating the accomplishment of the 1999 New York Knicks. Maybe it’s because Miami almost didn’t make it out of the Eastern Conference Finals after winning the first three games of that series,” explained Mike Battaglino of Heat Nation.

“Or it could be because the Nuggets got to the championship round by sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.”

The Heat avoided a collapse for the ages when they defeated the Celtics 103-84 in Game 7 on May 29 to avoid becoming the first NBA team to lose a best-of-seven series after taking a 3-0 lead.

Miami has been doubted throughout the playoffs, and Battaglino pointed out that previous predictions by The Athletic panels had them losing to the New York Knicks in the second round and then not getting past the Celtics in the conference finals.

The scout said the advantage the Heat have built with its role players could be countered by the Nuggets’ similar strength in that area.

The expert also said the coaching of Denver’s Michael Malone is good enough to counter that of Spoelstra. ESPN/ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy this week said Fil-Am coach Spoelstra is the best head coach in Heat history.


Coach’s outlook as reported by The Athletic: “I really think it’s going to go six (games). I think Denver pulls it out. I love what Miami does, and I love what they’re doing and how hard they play. And Spo is unbelievable at what he’s doing. But I think, at the end of the day, Denver was No. 1 for a reason: the way they pass and share the basketball. And Joker is, obviously, the (driving force) in all of that.

“Every team has tried to (slow Jokic). I think it’s just a matter of how much you allow him to score or if you decide to let him facilitate. Knowing what he does most and what he has been doing, as a walking triple-double, I think (the Heat are) going to play him individually at times. I think they’ll mix up the double-teams. I think the zone is going to be effective for them, because it allows them to navigate and dictate where those shots are coming from for the team. Like you saw (in Game 7 of the East finals) against Boston, they’re just going to have to keep mixing it up. The traps and the adjustments probably will come a little bit more so on (Jamal) Murray than on Joker. I think that’s the other factor that’s going to play a big part of it: how they can guard Murray as well.

“I just love the way the Heat share the basketball. It doesn’t matter who is scoring. They allow the game to come to them. They read, and then take, what the defense is giving them offensively. Defensively, I love how Spo just keeps mixing it up. He doesn’t sit with one coverage. He went to zone in the fourth, and I was so impressed by that: just knowing that that was what was going to be effective versus what tradition says that we should be playing (another) type of style in this moment. …

“The Nuggets are clicking on all cylinders with their ability to share and move the basketball. Then, on top of that, they have shot makers with Porter, Bruce Brown, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. When you have that as a problem (for the other team) and the space that they play in, it’s very tough to lock in on one man.”


Meanwhile, we learned that the longest losing streak in Miami Heat history is 17 games, set during the 1988-89 season, according to champsorchumps.us.

The losing streak started on Nov 5, 1988 with a 91-111 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and ended on Dec 14 with a 89-88 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The longest home game losing streak in Miami Heat history, on the other hand, is 11 games, set during the 1988-89 season.

The losing streak reportedly started on Nov 5, 1988 with a 91-111 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and ended on Dec 23 with a 101-80 home win over the Utah Jazz.

The longest road game losing streak in Miami Heat history is 18 games, set during the 1988-89 season. The losing streak reportedly started on Dec 15, 1988 with a 90-94 away loss to the Sacramento Kings and ended on Mar 15, 1989 with a 109-103 away win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Do the Miami Heat have any losing streaks in the all-time top 50 NBA losing streaks?

Yes, the 17-game losing streak by the 1988-89 Miami Heat is the 27th longest losing streak in NBA history.

We hope Miami Heat will rewrite history, prove the soothsayers wrong, and win another NBA title this year.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)