NBA Finals Game 5: Denver Nuggets win first championship, defeat Miami Heat

For the first time in franchise history the Denver Nuggets are NBA champions.

The Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat, 94-89, to clinch the best-of-seven series 4-1 and win the NBA Finals.

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic had a game-high 28 points and 16 rebounds in the win.

The gritty Heat led for most of the game, but the Nuggets fought back in the third quarter and only trailed 71-70 entering the fourth quarter. Denver and Miami traded blows in the final quarter, but the Nuggets were able to get timely stops down the stretch and made clutch free throws to seal the game and win their first ever NBA title.

'OK, not I, we won it': Nikola Jokic remains modest after winning Finals MVP

Nikola Jokic claimed he didn’t care about winning a third consecutive regular-season MVP in 2022-23.

All throughout the playoffs when he posted a statistical line in the box score that had never been accomplished in NBA history ― such as the first 30-point, 20-rebound triple-double in the Finals ― Jokic downplayed it.

"It’s just a stat," he said. "I don’t care."

The Denver Nuggets’ reserved but influential star wanted to win the championship.

Dismissing individual stats in favor of team success, Jokic said, "My focus has never been those kinds of records or whatever the media are putting on me. I'm just trying to win a game and just play every game. Go step-by-step and play every game to win a game, as simple as that."

He didn’t win the award he didn’t care about, but earned the accomplishment he wanted. Jokic is an NBA champion. Despite his monotone pleas that he is just a one player, he is much more than that. He is among the top-3 players in the league, and for his work against the Heat, Jokic earned Finals MVP. — Jeff Zillgitt

Don't tire of the Nuggets yet. Jokic & Co. built for more NBA titles

The Nuggets were a rolling train, picking up speed and confidence, and through April and May and then into June, the Nuggets Express was unstoppable as it went through Minnesota, Phoenix, Los Angeles Lakers and Miami before stopping in Denver for a season-ending celebration.

Coach Michael Malone was the conductor, getting his team to play some of its best basketball of the season. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray formed the engine, and a roster built through the draft, free agency and trades provided fuel for a title.

The Nuggets, who were atop the Western Conference from December until the end of the regular season and earned the No. 1 seed, have arrived, a combination of talent, patience, health and vision coming together at the right time.

“Since day one (in training camp) in San Diego, it was something different about this team,” Jokic said. “I felt it. I felt some different energy and every day since then I had the same feeling. I'm not really optimistic guy, but that gave me hope that we can do something.”

Now, the Nuggets have their starting five under contract for at least next season and possibly longer. They will be among the favorites next season.

"We accomplished something this franchise has never done before," Malone said. "But we have a lot of young talented players in that locker room, and we just showed through 16 playoff wins what we're capable of on the biggest stage in the world." — Jeff Zillgitt

Watch: Nikola Jokic and brothers have hilariously heartwarming NBA Finals celebrations

For NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokic, the Denver Nuggets' first championship was a family affair.

After the buzzer sounded and his team had won 94-89, Jokic's teammates were visibly emotional. The icy two-time regular season MVP remained stoic as he told Lisa Salters, "The job is done, we can go home now."

But the center's brothers were not going to let him avoid the celebration.

Strahinja, the oldest of the three, lifted up his 6-11, 284-pound youngest brother by holding him under a leg and bouncing him up and down. The newly-crowned NBA champion barely got off the ground, but he was smiling widely with his eyes shining. The brothers then shared a long embrace. — Victoria Hernandez

NBA Finals drip check: Nikola Jokic, Tyler Herro shine off the court

The most-coveted accessory in all of the NBA is not a Louis Vuitton belt or a pair of Louboutin sneakers, but the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The Denver Nuggets were the team to capture the glorious gold arm candy on Monday when they beat the Miami Heat in five games in the NBA Finals. Yes, Larry always goes well with obtuse goggles and champagne spray.

But, even though neither the Nuggets nor the Heat are the glitziest teams in the league, there were plenty of good looks from throughout the series, including designer shirts and cozy matching sweatsuits. The stars came to shine. Here’s the NBA Finals drip check. — Victoria Hernandez

Calling his shot broken, Michael Porter Jr. has impact on Game 5, Nuggets' NBA title

Michael Porter Jr. called his jump shot broken.

"I didn't play well offensively, to my capabilities," Porter said, adding, "I don't know what was going on with my shot. I really don't care. I'll fix it in the offseason."

Porter doesn’t need to worry about his shot now. He is an NBA champion following the Denver Nuggets’ 94-89 victory against the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Porter is right. He didn’t play well offensively in the Finals. He averaged 9.6 points, well below his season average of 17.4 points, and against Miami, he made just 32.8% of his shots and just 14.3% on 3-pointers.

But he also averaged 8.4 rebounds, and despite his lack of offense, the Nuggets were better with Porter on the court than off the court against Miami. — Jeff Zillgitt

Jimmy Butler vows NBA Finals loss not end for battle-tested Heat

The Miami Heat made history by becoming only the second No. 8 seed to reach the NBA Finals. They did it with grit and will power, but it wasn't enough to become the only No. 8 seed to win the championship as they lost a five-game series to the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.

Jimmy Butler was the undeniable leader of the team. He played through an ankle injury that he suffered in Game 1 of the second round of the playoffs against the New York Knicks. He sat out one game and played the rest of the playoffs. After losing the Finals, he said was "fine," there was "zero" pain and "no excuse."

He led by example and encouragement. He brought the Heat to an escape room ahead of Game 2 of the Finals for a bit of bonding and regrouping after dropping the first matchup. Afterward, Miami captured its sole win of the series.

En route to the Finals, his confidence never wavered as the Boston Celtics rallied from down 0-3 to force a Game 7. Butler guaranteed a win in Game 6 and when that didn't happen, he made sure it did in the final matchup. — Victoria Hernandez

Denver Nuggets announce parade date

The Nuggets announced that their championship parade will be Thursday, June 15. The parade will start at Denver's Union Station and stop at Civic Center Park.

Nikola Jokic named MVP

Nikola Jokic paced the Nuggets with 28 points, 16 rebounds and four assists in the hard-fought Game 5 win. The Nuggets center shot an efficient 12-of-16 from the floor. He played a team-high 42 minutes in the series-clinching victory.

Jokic was named MVP for his performance in the NBA Finals.

— Tyler Dragon

Jamal Murray able to overcome tough shooting night

Jamal Murray shot a subpar 6-of-15 from the floor, but he did make timely plays in the second half to help the Nuggets overcome a pesky Heat squad. Murray tallied 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the win. The Nuggets were a +12 when he was on the floor, a sign of his overall impact for Denver.

— Tyler Dragon

Nikola Jokic, Nuggets win first NBA title in Game 5 nail-biter over Heat

Nikola Jokic celebrates with his daughter after winning the 2023 NBA Championship.
Nikola Jokic celebrates with his daughter after winning the 2023 NBA Championship.

DENVER Style points in an NBA Finals closeout game are insignificant.

Win pretty, win ugly, it doesn’t matter. Just win.

That’s what the Denver Nuggets did, beating Miami 94-89 in Game 5 Monday and winning the franchise’s first championship in its 47-year NBA history.

The Nuggets overcame a 10-point deficit and horrible 3-point shooting (16.7%), outscoring the Heat 50-38 in the second half.

Denver struggled to make 3-pointers (just 3-for-23 through three quarters) and committed careless turnovers. But Miami wasn’t much better on 3-pointers, and the Nuggets have one thing the Heat do not: Nikola Jokic.

Jokic had 28 points and 16 rebounds, and 19 of his points came in the second half when the Nuggets found a way to win.

Bruce Brown’s putback with 1:31 left gave Denver a 90-89 lead, and Jimmy Butler’s turnover with 24.7 seconds left led to two Kentavious Caldwell-Pope free throws for a 92-89 Nuggets lead. Miami called timeout. Jimmy Butler missed a 3-pointer and Bruce Brown secured the title with two more free throws.

The Nuggets received contributions from starters and reserves, and just as in the overall scope of the series, the Nuggets’ talent emerged as superior over the course of four quarters in Game 5.

Michael Porter Jr. had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Jamal Murray finished with 14 points, five rebounds and five assists. Brown added 10 points and Caldwell-Pope had 11.

The Heat were a remarkable postseason story. They lost their first play-in game, had to beat Toronto in the second play-in game just to get the No. 8 seed and then eliminated top-seeded Milwaukee in the first round. Miami beat New York and then stopped Boston in seven games in the Eastern Conference finals.

It was an admirable team that played hard and made it difficult for opponents to win games. However, Denver proved to be a different Miami foe -- too much talent led by Jokic, the two-time MVP and now NBA Finals MVP.

Butler led the Heat with 21 points, and Bam Adebayo had 20 points and 12 rebounds.

— Jeff Zillgitt 

Third quarter update: Heat 71, Nuggets 70

After being down 51-44 at halftime, the Nuggets were able to generate some momentum in the third quarter. Jamal Murray drilled a three to tie the game 60-60 with 6:46 in third quarter and forced a Heat timeout.

At the time it was only Denver’s second made 3-point field goal of the game.

Despite the rough shooting from behind the arc, Denver was able to trim its deficit 71-70 at the end of the third quarter in large part because of Michael Porter Jr. The small forward had a creative drive and finish in transition.

Porter also made a three to give the Nuggets a brief lead. Porter has 16 points entering the fourth quarter.

Bam Adebayo has a team-best 20 points for the Heat.

Tyler Dragon

Terrible shooting from long range

The Nuggets haven't been able to find their touch from three-point range. Denver was 2-20 on three-point field goals at the 3:58 mark of the third quarter. The Heat haven't shot much better. Miami's shooting 5-22 from behind the arc.

Halftime update: Heat 51, Nuggets 44

The Heat took their momentum from the end of the first quarter into the second while Denver had foul trouble. Besides Aaron Gordon picking up his third foul of the half, Jamal Murray committed a shooting foul on Jimmy Butler midway through the quarter that had the crowd at Ball Arena booing loudly. Butler made both his free throws.

Bruce Brown had a steal and a layup that brought the Nuggets to within four and forced Erik Spoelstra to call a timeout. The Heat outscored Denver 12-9 from there, but neither team’s shots were falling consistently.

A long toss from Jokic at the buzzer bounced off the rim.

Bam Adebayo leads the Heat with 18 points and nine rebounds. Michael Porter Jr. and Jokic each have nine points for the Nuggets. Murray has been held to four points. He’s averaged 23 in the series.

― Victoria Hernandez

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) drives against Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) and guard Kyle Lowry (7) during Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) drives against Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) and guard Kyle Lowry (7) during Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Aaron Gordon in early foul trouble

Aaron Gordon found himself on the bench in the first half.

The Nuggets power forward picked up his third personal foul with over nine minutes remaining in the second quarter. Nuggets coach Mike Malone quickly subbed Gordon out following his third foul.

The Nuggets trailed 30-27 when Gordon checked out of the lineup.

Gordon had a breakout performance in Denver's Game 4 win with a game-high 27 points.

― Tyler Dragon

First quarter update: Heat 24, Nuggets 22

Neither team started well. The Nuggets committed four turnovers in the first four minutes of the opening quarter, and the Heat missed 12 of their first 14 shots.

The Nuggets found composure and took a 12-5 lead ‒ after falling behind 5-0 to start the game. Miami settled in, too, getting production from Bam Adebayo (14 points, six rebounds) and Max Strrus (eight points), who combined for 22 of Miami’s 24 points in the first quarter.

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic had three points, three rebounds and two assists, but he picked up his second foul with 2:51 left in the quarter, sending him to the bench. Jokic’s foul situation is worth watching. He had foul trouble in Game 4, but the Nuggets managed the minutes without him on the court. Michael Porter Jr. led the Nuggets with seven points and seven rebounds.

Denver was 10-for-24 from the field but just 1-for-8 on 3-pointers; Miami was 10-for-28 and 1-for-6.

— Jeff Zillgitt 

Denver rapper Trev Rich hypes crowd up for Game 5 of NBA Finals

Denver rapper Trev Rich opened Game 5 of the NBA Finals by narrating a Nuggets hype video ahead of the national anthem. He has made his name as a leader of the local music scene and was nominated for a Grammy for his work on the soundtrack for “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.” He appeared on “Elevate” with Denzel Curry and Cordae, who is expecting a child with tennis star Naomi Osaka. He also was featured on “Whole Team,” which was part of the “Madden ‘23” soundtrack.

— Victoria Hernandez

Game 5 starting lineups

The Nuggets went with their usual starting lineup of Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon and Nikola Jokic for Game 5.

The Heat started Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love and Bam Adebayo.

— Tyler Dragon

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats performed Game 5 national anthem

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats gave a folksy rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” at Ball Arena ahead of Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The group wore Denver Nuggets shirts as they stood at center court together while the arena lit up in red, white and blue lights.

The group, who also performed the national anthem ahead of Game 1, is best known for their platinum-certified song “S.O.B.” They released their newest EP, “What If” earlier this month.

— Victoria Hernandez

Nikola Jokic 2023 playoff stats

The two-time league MVP is averaging a near triple-double through 19 games this postseason: 30.1 points, 13.3 rebounds and 9.8 assists per game.

Jimmy Butler playoff stats

Through 21 playoff games, Butler is averaging 27.2 points on 47.6% shooting, including 35.6% from 3. He’s also grabbing 6.6 rebounds, dishing out 5.9 assists and snagging 1.7 steals per game.

Over 64 regular-season games, Butler averaged 22.9 points on 53.9% shooting (35% from 3), 5.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game.

Tyler Herro available for Game 5

Tyler Herro (hand) is available to play in Game 5, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra announced pregame. The guard hasn't played since Game 1 of Miami's opening-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks.

"He's done everything he needed to do. We appreciate all the work that he's put in. It's been a long whatever, six, seven weeks of this. He's put himself out there, available. It's all hands on deck," Spoelstra said pregame. "So we'll go with our initial, our normal rotation, and then we'll just see how the game plays out. We have no idea how this game's going to play out, but it's great to have everybody available."

The Heat upgraded Herro to questionable hours before for Monday's game. He averaged 20.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists during the 2022-23 regular season.

Mike Malone: ‘This is gonna be the hardest thing we’ve ever done’

The Nuggets are on the verge of winning their first championship in franchise history. Is Denver up for the challenge? Mike Malone believes his team is ready.

“Our guys have been really locked in and focused. We all fully understand the opportunity that we have in front of us. It’s not gonna be easy,” Malone said during his pregame press conference. “This is gonna be the hardest thing that we’ve ever done. (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) is the only guy in that room who has ever won a championship. Tonight is gonna be another example of us trying to achieve something that none of us have achieved. All the guys are excited for the opportunity.”

Tyler Dragon

NBA Finals Game 5 referees

Crew chief Marc Davis, referee David Guthrie, umpire Josh Tiven and alternate Ed Malloy are the officials for Game 5.

Have the Nuggets ever won a championship?

This would be Denver’s first NBA Finals victory. The Nuggets are at the door, making their first Finals appearance in franchise history. Injuries slowed the Nuggets for a couple of seasons, but they’ve been headed in this direction since they reached the conference finals and lost to the Lakers in the 2020 Orlando bubble.

Best finish before this season: Lost in the conference finals five times, most recently to the Lakers in 2020.

— Jeff Zillgitt 

Not watching the spellbinding Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray? You're missing NBA history.

There are great duos in the NBA, and the Jokic-Murray duo has emerged as one of the best. Their pick-and-roll game is devastating to opponents. They try to make sure the other is getting enough touches to make the offense work. They know how to maximize their strengths and each other's.

"I'd say it's a trust and a feel, that's the best way for me to put it. It's not really Xs and Os," Murray said. "It's just reading the game and trusting that the other is going to make the right play. If he throws it to me, he knows and expects what to see from me, and he knows the mood I'm in, the intensity I'm playing with. ...

“I think it's just a feel and a trust that we're going to figure it out, and it's a lot of unselfishness. It's free flowing. If something is there, we go. If it's not, we don't force it.”

It is spellbinding to watch two players control a game with scoring, rebounding and passing.

Other than the NBA and its broadcast partners, it’s no one else’s job to sell these Finals to a sports-watching public. But you’re missing out if you’re not watching Jokic and Murray. You’re missing NBA history.

— Jeff Zillgitt

Nuggets ‘not satisfied’ yet heading into Game 5

Pure joy and satisfaction remain one victory away for the Denver Nuggets.

Beating Phoenix and advancing to the Western Conference finals and beating the Los Angeles Lakers and reaching the NBA Finals were just steps, part of a larger mission to win an NBA championship.

"I speak for 17 players in that locker room and the entire organization: We are not satisfied," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said nearly three weeks ago after Denver swept the Lakers.

The only thing will make this season redeeming and successful is beating the Miami Heat one more time. Up 3-1 in the Finals after Friday’s 108-95 victory, the Nuggets are in position to claim the franchise’s first NBA championship in Game 5 Monday.

— Jeff Zillgitt 

'He's tough. He's chill.' Aaron Gordon just being himself is everything for Nuggets

Nikola Jokic didn’t have a triple-double.

Jamal Murray didn’t score 30-plus points.

But Aaron Gordon scored a playoff career-high 27 points and had seven rebounds and six assists, and when Jokic went to the bench with five fouls early in the fourth quarter, the Nuggets faced a moment of truth.

They emerged with a 108-95 victory against the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, putting Denver up 3-1.

Gordon is part of a thriving team that is playing great basketball at the right time and on the cusp of the franchise’s first NBA championship.

"Aaron did it all for us tonight. He really did," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "We've seen that now in four games in the Finals where Aaron has had moments where he has carried us offensively. He made threes tonight (3-for-4), obviously, which is always a good thing, but I couldn't be more proud of Aaron Gordon and his impact across the board.”

— Jeff Zillgitt 

Nikola Jokic in rare company

Nikola Jokic is the third player to average 30 points, 10 rebounds and 55% shooting through the first four games of an NBA Finals, per ESPN Stats & Info. The Nuggets center joins Giannis Antetokounmpo (2021) and Shaquille O'Neal (three times) as the only players to every accomplish the feat.

Tyler Dragon

Bruce Brown is the latest Nuggets reserve to star in NBA Finals

Denver Nuggets reserve Bruce Brown scored 26 points in the first three games of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat.

In Game 4 − when the Nuggets needed an additional scorer − Brown scored 21 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, as Denver pulled away for a 108-95 victory and a 3-1 series lead.

"Bruce Brown in the fourth quarter was amazing,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. "They were giving Jamal (Murray) so much attention that, 'Let's get Jamal off the ball, let Bruce make some plays.' He was aggressive, got to the basket, made shots, and tonight was an impressive performance."

— Jeff Zillgitt 

Bang! ABC/ESPN's Breen enters rarified air in Game 5 of NBA Finals with 100th broadcast

Mike Breen is currently the dean of television announcers for the NBA Finals — and he is about to enter rarified air space.

The ABC/ESPN announcer will reach another milestone on Monday night in Game 5 of the Denver-Miami series. It will be Breen’s 100th NBA Finals broadcast, making him the third basketball announcer on radio or television to reach that mark. He'll be the sixth U.S. play-by-play voice to eclipse the mark, including the World Series and Stanley Cup Final.

Breen missed the first two games of last year’s series due to COVID, which briefly delayed him from reaching the century mark.

“I knew how many years I had done the finals, but I never put it into a specific number of games,” said Breen, who is calling his 18th championship series. “I would have never said 100. For some reason, to hear that number was surprising to me, and it’s not something even in my wildest dreams that I thought I could do.”

— Joe Reedy, Associated Press 

After Conor McGregor punches, Miami Heat mascot Burnie ready for potential Game 6

Burnie, the Miami Heat mascot who had to visit the emergency room after taking two punches from MMA star Conor McGregor during a promotional announcement in Game 4 on Friday, will be available for a potential Game 6.

"That's the Miami Heat toughness that we're talking about," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Sunday, adding, "We won't reveal who that is, but yeah, he can take a punch and get back up. He's not going to miss any time."

The incident happened with 7:35 remaining in the third quarter of Denver’s 108-95 victory in Game 4. The Heat revealed their partnership with McGregor and his pain relief spray called TIDL Sport. It was an awkward presentation as some fans booed McGregor who also sat courtside for the game.

— Jeff Zillgitt 

Heat's Udonis Haslem spoke for many Floridians (and Americans) by bashing Ron DeSantis | Opinion

Miami Heat player Udonis Haslem did something recently that a lot of Floridians likely want to. That a lot of athletes in Florida would probably like to do as well. Hell, that a lot of Americans want to.

He bashed Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida and a Presidential hopeful, as an embarrassment to the state. Haslem did it in no uncertain terms. No holding back. No caveats. Haslem spoke the truth and did something important while doing it. He used his power not just to bring attention to the abhorrent things DeSantis is doing in Florida, but also condemn them.

Make no mistake: what Haslem has done is courageous because he risks an attack from DeSantis and his allies. They can try and make his life miserable but Haslem doesn't seem to care.

— Mike Freeman 

NBA Finals Game 5 odds

Tipico Sportsbook has the spread favoring Denver by 8.5 points over Miami. They have the moneyline for Miami set at +305 and for Denver set at –370. They have the over/under for total points set at 209.5

NBA Finals viewership 2023

  • Game 1: Denver’s series-opening victory averaged 11.5 million viewers with a peak of 12.7 million viewers.

  • Game 2: Miami’s road win pulled in an average of 11.9 million viewers. The game’s highest viewership was 15.2 million viewers.

  • Game 3: The Nuggets’ win over the Heat averaged 11.2 million viewers, reaching a high point of 12.3 million viewers.

NBA Finals TV schedule 2023

Here is the full schedule:

*if necessary

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA Finals Game 5: Nuggets win first title, announce parade date