Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credit: MATTHEW STOCKMAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP 22:53 p.m., May 31, 2023

Between Miami and Denver, there is no favorite. That's according to two-time Nuggets MVP Nikola Jokic before the NBA Finals against Miami. The Heat, surprise of this final, will play its luck. The Floridians can now become the first team in history to win the title by being seeded No. 8.

Two-time Nuggets MVP Nikola Jokic has denied his team's status as the favorite for the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat on the eve of Game One Thursday in Denver. "Who said we were favourites? The media?" asked Jokic, when asked about how he was coping with the situation. And when the journalist went on to say that the predictions came from Las Vegas, temple of sports betting, the Serb replied: "Las Vegas had made us underdogs before (the play-offs). This is not correct. I think we are not the favourites. In the final, there is no favourite," he insisted.

In his wake, Jokic is averaging a triple-double (29.9 pts, 13.3 rbds, 10.3 assists) in these playoffs, the Nuggets, seeded No. 1 in the West, have been increasingly impressive and relentless in the finals, first dismissing Minnesota (4-1) and Phoenix (4-2) before sweeping LeBron James' Lakers (4-0) in the conference finals.

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Miami turns everything upside down

Qualified in extremis via the second playoff game, Miami reversed everything in its path, even the predictions in the East, eliminating in turn the favorite Bucks of Giannis Antetokounmpo (4-1) thanks to a Jimmy Butler in a state of grace (37 pts average in this series), the Knicks (4-2) then the Celtics, finalists last year, by going to win the decisive Game 7 in Boston. The Floridians can now become the first team in history to win the title as the No. 8 seed, and their fighting spirit will undoubtedly be one of the answers they will face against the quiet strength of Denver.

"This will be the hardest series of our lives, we know that and we are prepared for it," Jokic warned. Heat pivot Bam Adebayo will have the daunting task of trying to limit the Serb's offensive impact. But the "Joker" believes that this duel between greats is reductive. "It's not Bam against me. It's Denver vs. Miami. Just because I think we have a similar style of play, we involve everybody. We like to play as a team. And that's why it will be interesting," he concluded.