Denver Nuggets Win First NBA Title, Favorites to Repeat in 2024

Posted on: June 13, 2023, 11:56h. 

Last updated on: June 13, 2023, 12:24h.

The Denver Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the 2023 NBA Finals to win their first championship. Oddsmakers installed the Nuggets as the consensus favorite to win the 2023-24 NBA championship at +475 odds.

Nikola Jokic Nuggets
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is awarded the NBA Finals MVP after leading his team to a victory over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the 2023 NBA Finals at Ball Arena in Denver. (Image: Getty)

Despite an ugly shooting performance in Game 5 from the free-throw line (56.5%) and from 3-point range (17.9%), the Nuggets overcame an 8-point deficit and a late-scoring flurry by Heat star Jimmy Butler. The Nuggets rallied in the second half to win by five points and lock up a championship.

After dropping Game 2 at home in Denver, the Nuggets won three consecutive games to secure the title. They won two road games in Miami to seize a 3-1 lead before they sealed the deal in Game 5 back in Denver on Monday night.

Jokic Named NBA Finals MVP

Nikola Jokic set a record by becoming the first player in NBA playoff history to tally the most points (600), rebounds (269), and assists (190) in a single postseason.

Jokic won the NBA regular-season MVP in the last two seasons, but was edged out this season by Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid. Jokic got the last laugh by leading his team to an NBA championship and an NBA Finals MVP. He scored 28 points and added 16 rebounds in the title-clinching victory.

Jokic finished the postseason averaging 30 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game. He shot 54.8% from the floor and 46.1% from 3-point range. He posted 10 triple-doubles in the postseason, which eclipsed a record previously held by Wilt Chamberlain.

In the NBA Finals, Jokic averaged 30.2 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game. He posted two triple-doubles in the finals and shot 42.1% from 3-point land.

Nuggets: Path to the Championship

On paper, it looks like the Nuggets had one of the easiest paths to a title. They secured the #1 seed in the Western Conference and picked off the #8 Minnesota Timberwolves in five games, defeated the #4 Phoenix Suns in six games, then swept the #7 Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals. The Nuggets needed only five games to beat the Miami Heat, who were the #8 seed from the Eastern Conference, in the NBA Finals.

Of course, if you break down each opponent by their superstars, the Nuggets’ path to the championship looks a lot tougher.

The Nuggets sidestepped two young stars in Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns in the first round. They squared off against Kevin Durant and Devin Booker in the second round. They battled LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the conference finals. In the NBA Finals, the Nuggets fended off Jimmy “Playoff Jimmy” Butler and Bam Adebayo.

The Nuggets posted a 16-4 record in the playoffs and lost just once in their previous 11 games. The 2017 Golden State Warriors were the only team who had a better postseason record at 16-1. The Nuggets are tied with the 2007 San Antonio Spurs (16-4) with the second-best postseason record since the NBA expanded the open-round series from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven series.

Tracking the Nuggets’ Title Odds in 2022-23

Before the regular season began, you could have backed the Nuggets at +1800 odds to win the championship. They were eighth overall on DraftKings’ futures board during the preseason at a time when the defending champion Golden State Warriors were three-way co-favorites with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers at +600 odds.

Through the first 16 weeks of the regular season, the Nuggets saw their title odds fluctuate between +700 and +1900. They bottomed out at +1900 after the first five weeks of the season and a 10-7 start. The Nuggets were +700 odds prior to the trade deadline in early February, and third overall on the futures board trailing the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks.

At the All-Star Break, which occurred a week after the NBA trade deadline, the Nuggets slipped to +800 odds to win the title as the fourth-highest team on the board. They boasted the best record in the West at 41-18, but the betting bandwagon jumped all over the Phoenix Suns after they acquired Durant in a trade. The Suns emerged as the second betting favorite at +450 odds even though they were in fourth place in the Western Conference standings.

The Nuggets were +1100 odds to win the 2023 NBA Finals at the end of the regular season, or the sixth-highest team on the board even though they were the #1 seed in the West, and won 53 games.

After the end of the first round, the Nuggets improved to +650 odds, but were fourth on the board. After they knocked out the Suns in the second round, the Nuggets were +240 odds to win the title and only trailed the Celtics (+100).

Nuggets +475 Odds to Repeat

Oddsmakers didn’t waste any time after the 2023 NBA Finals ended before they installed the Nuggets as the betting favorite to run it back next season. The Nuggets are +475 odds to win next season’s NBA championship, according to DraftKings.

The Boston Celtics are +550 odds as the second favorite on the board, just ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks (+650), and Phoenix Suns (+850).

The Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers are both +1200 odds to win the title, and they share the fifth-highest slot on the futures board.

The Heat are +2000 odds to win next year’s title, but they’re 10th on the futures board and positioned behind the Philadelphia 76ers (+1300), Dallas Mavericks (+1400), and Los Angeles Clippers (+1700).

The upstart Sacramento Kings are +5000 odds to win the title next season as the 15th highest team on the board, and are just behind the New York Knicks at +4500 odds.