NBA Finals 2023: Heat vs. Nuggets by the Numbers

This year’s NBA Finals is an unusual matchup between the Denver Nuggets, making their first appearance in franchise history, and the Miami Heat, who became just the second No. 8 seed to ever make the championship round. To get here, they ousted historic franchises in the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, respectively.

Also missing are the league’s most recognizable names: Steph Curry and LeBron James—at least one of whom has played in 11 of the previous 12 Finals. This is the first time in 33 years that the Finals won’t feature a player who made first team all-NBA.

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On display, however, will be the two best players of the 2023 playoffs so far: Nikola Jokić and Jimmy Butler. In addition to fascinating on-court tactical questions, such as how the Heat will try to defend Jokić, there are compelling off-court stories. Among them: Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke is eyeing his third different major sports championship in 17 months.

Here are some key numbers to know going into the 2023 NBA Finals:

0 — NBA championships won by the Nuggets. They are one of 11 franchises to have never won a title, a list that includes 8 of the 11 least valuable franchises in the league.

5,280 — The altitude of Ball Arena in Denver, the highest NBA Finals site ever at exactly one mile above sea level. The Nuggets were 34-7 at home during the regular season and are 7-0 there in the playoffs so far. The data shows that the Nuggets have historically enjoyed the most significant home advantage across the four major U.S. sports.

-400 — The Nuggets’ odds to win the NBA Finals, according to BetMGM. Denver is the second largest Finals favorite since 2008, trailing only the 2018 Golden State Warriors.

+310 — The Heat’s odds to win the NBA Finals. A Miami win would be the second biggest Finals upset of all time, after the 2004 Detroit Pistons overcoming +500 odds. There have been 16 NBA Finals upsets since 1969, per Sports Odds History.

+12500 — The Heat’s odds to win the title before the playoffs. No team has ever won the title after entering the playoffs with odds longer than +1800, a record held by the 2011 Dallas Mavericks.

+1800 — The Nuggets’ odds to win the title before the season began, which ranked ninth. No team outside of the top eight in preseason title odds has ever won the championship.

-0.3 — The Heat’s regular season net rating (point differential per 100 possessions). No team has ever won the championship after being outscored during the regular season, but the 1957 St. Louis Hawks and 1959 Minneapolis Lakers both reached the Finals with negative point differentials, and the 1981 Houston Rockets won their conference with a 40-42 record.

+3.4 — The Nuggets’ regular season net rating. Only the 1995 Houston Rockets have won the championship with a net rating of +3.5 or lower since 1980, but it was fairly common earlier in NBA history. Nine NBA champions before 1980 meet the criteria.

22 — The highest combined seeds of the opponents ever faced by an NBA champion. If the Nuggets win, they would shatter this record with 27.

47.7% — The percentage of postseason minutes for the Heat played by undrafted players. Only three teams in NBA history have ever exceeded Miami’s regular season mark of 46%, and none of them made the playoffs. This season, 13% of all minutes across the league were played by undrafted players, making Miami an outlier.

58% — The percentage the Heat shot on “wide open” threes (closest defender at least six feet away) in the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Boston Celtics, which was the highest of any team in any series over the past 10 years. Average percentage on wide open threes in the postseason during that time span has been just 39%, which is exactly the clip that Boston hit in the series.

$8.5 million — Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra’s annual salary, making him the third highest-paid NBA coach, following Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr.

15 — Spoelstra’s seasons as Miami’s head coach. Hired in 2008, Spoelstra is the second longest-tenured NBA head coach, while the Nuggets’ Michael Malone is fourth. They are two of only four NBA coaches who were not hired within the last four years.

6 — Number of NBA Finals coached by Spoelstra, which is tied for the fourth-most ever.

19 — Number of NBA Finals in which Pat Riley has been a player (three), coach (10) or executive (six), accounting for 25% of all Finals in NBA history.

$54.4 million — The average annual salary of Jokic’s five-year, $272 million supermax extension, the largest contract in NBA history. When it kicks in next season, Jokic will pass Steph Curry as the highest-paid player in North American sports.

$2 million — Jokic’s total endorsement earnings last year-- less than several players who have never made an all-NBA team, including D’Angelo Russell ($6 million) and Jokic’s teammate Jamal Murray ($3.5 million). Every other active player who had won MVP prior to this season scored at least $30 million in off-court earnings other than Derrick Rose, who still made $11 million.

$15.9 million — The Nuggets’ luxury tax bill for the 2022-23 season, per Spotrac. Five of the last seven NBA champions paid the luxury tax. Both the Nuggets and Heat are projected to pay the tax again next season, with Miami in danger of incurring additional penalties for exceeding the “second apron” threshold that was introduced in the league’s new collective bargaining agreement.

4 — The number of players on both rosters who earned between $10 million and $30 million in salary this season, fewer than the five who earned at least $30 million.

$356 million — The Heat’s revenue in the 2021-22 season, which ranked ninth in the NBA. The Nuggets earned $286 million, which ranked 22nd. Teams keep 75% of their postseason ticketing revenue, while the rest goes to the league. During last year’s Finals run, the Boston Celtics grossed more than $50 million before the NBA took its cut.

$733 — The cheapest ticket on the secondary market for Game 1 in Denver, according to TicketIQ. The average ticket price is the fourth highest in NBA Finals history, trailing 2019, 2021 and 2022.

11.9 million — Viewers of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on TNT, the seventh largest audience for a non-Finals NBA game over the past 20 years, and a 21% increase over Game 7 between the same two teams last year. Overall, playoff viewership numbers are up more than 10% versus 2022, despite the fact that primetime TV usage has dropped by nearly 10% during the same time span. Only three modern NBA Finals have averaged less than 12 million viewers per game: 2007, 2020 and 2021.

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