Heat or Nuggets? Local players, coaches make their NBA Finals 2023 predictions
Local basketball players from the UAAP, NCAA and the PBA weighed in on the upcoming NBA Finals 2023 series between the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat, in what is expected to be a classic showdown between two scrappy teams.
There was no consensus among Inquirer Sports’ respondents on who they think will win the Larry O’Brien NBA championship trophy this season.
The Heat, led by Filipino-American coach Erik Spoelstra and star player Jimmy Butler, are looking for a fairytale ending to their Cinderella campaign so far in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, going from a play-in team to a title contender.
Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, meanwhile, are favored to go all the way for their first franchise title after coming off a masterful performance against the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Western Conference Finals.
The best-of-seven NBA Finals series tips off on Friday (PH time) in Denver.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero (Heat in 6)
I think in order for Miami to win they need double time to stop or limit Jokic.
Converge Jerrick Balanza (Heat in 6)
[Miami] needs to stop Jamal and Jokic but they’re unstoppable. Let’s see what adjustments they’ll do. It’s good to watch those levels of play because it’s enjoyable.
Magnolia forward Rome Dela Rosa (Nuggets in 6)
They’re deeper and they’re more well rested at the moment. With Jokic playing at a high level, he gets everyone involved. Jokic is going to be key as always.
Magnolia guard Mark Barroca (Heat in 7)
For me I ride with underdogs, they’ll bring the dog fight. They have to contain Jokic. He’s the best player now in the NBA, any schemes, he can read, his IQ is like 1,000. It’s like he can’t be stopped. For me, you can’t really do much so you have to stop other players as well like Jamal Murray and others.
Magnolia guard Paul Lee (Nuggets in 6)
It’s about time to win the championship for them. They’re a very solid team, they have a very deep bench but it’s hard to choose between them because Miami’s heart is different.
Gilas Women coach Pat Aquino (Nuggets in 7)
Became a big fan of Jokic this season especially his tandem with Murray. I also like how the Nuggets play even on their journey to the Finals.
But don’t count out the Heat with their amazing coach, our very own coach Spo. [They] have a very good defensive team. The matchups will be great this NBA finals and I will be excited to watch it through the whole series.
St. Benilde coach Charles Tiu (Nuggets in 6)
[Denver Nuggets have] too much firepower offensively.
Former UP guard Ricci Rivero (Heat in 7)
First, I wanted the Lakers to be there that’s why I don’t want Denver to win. I like how Jimmy [Butler] leads his team. I believe in Coach Spo and his system.
UP guard Harold Alarcon (Nuggets in 5)
The Nuggets are stronger and more complete compared to Miami. I expect Miami to fight, but Jimmy [Bulter] will get tired.
Nic Cabanero (Heat in 7)
I’ll pick Heat over Nuggets because Jimmy Butler is really different when in playoff mode. One thing I really like about the Miami Heat is they are surrounded by shooters. Experience-wise in coaching, I’ll pick Coach Spo over Malone. But to be honest, it’s really hard to pick because of the duo of Jokic and Murray. Jokic is unstoppable, no one can guard him and he is a lowkey defender. So still, I’ll continue to support the Heat.
Former Letran guard Brent Paraiso (Heat in 7)
Denver is a great team and would likely win the series but I’m rooting for the Heat to win it. I like their mentality of never giving up until the final buzzer. It shows the winning culture that they have and being underdogs they show the world what they can also win against stronger teams with teamwork.