DENVER (AP) — The NBA Finals will end in six games. At least, that’s what the story says.
Of the first 76 editions of the NBA Finals, the 77th title series begins Thursday night in Denver when the Nuggets host the Miami Heat, the series has ended in six games 30 times.
That is by far the most common result.
The title series went to Game 7 19 times, ended in five games 18 times, and finished as a four-game sweep just nine times.
Each of the past four years has seen finishes in exactly six games: Toronto over Golden State in 2019, the Los Angeles Lakers over the Heat in 2020, Milwaukee over Phoenix in 2021 and Golden State over Boston last season.
DENVER AT HOME
The Nuggets will tie a franchise record by playing their 50th home game of the season on Thursday night, when they host Game 1 of the NBA Finals. (And that, of course, means they’ll break the team record in Game 2 on Sunday night.)
Denver has already set a record for franchise home wins in a single season, with 42 entering this series (42-7). If the Nuggets go 3-0 or 4-0 at home in the NBA Finals, they will surpass the 1976-77 team (38-6, .864) for the second-best home record in franchise history. .
They went 40-4 at home in 2012-13, the team’s best mark in a single season.
Who says divisional play is pointless? For the 11th time in the last 12 seasons, a division champion will win the NBA title.
Denver won the Northwest Division. Miami won the Southeast Division.
Last season, Golden State won the NBA title despite finishing 11 games behind Phoenix. That broke a streak of 10 straight years when the eventual NBA champion also won his division. Before Golden State last year, the most recent division non-winner to win the title was Dallas in 2011.
If he appears in the NBA Finals, Miami’s Udonis Haslem, in his 20th and final season, would set a record.
Haslem turns 43 on June 9. He might be the oldest player to appear in the title series, surpassing the mark of 42 years and 58 days set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on June 13, 1989. Abdul-Jabbar played 29 minutes in that game. for the Los Angeles Lakers, in a loss to the Detroit Pistons.
Abdul-Jabbar is one of four players to get playing time in the final after turning 40; Herb Williams, Karl Malone and Kevin Willis are the others.
Juwan Howard, 39 years, 135 days, is the oldest player to reach a Finals game for the Heat, which came the night they beat Oklahoma City for the 2012 title.
Haslem did not appear in the 2020 finals. The last time he played in a finals match was June 15, 2014, six days after his 34th birthday.
NO. 8 SEEDS
Miami needs a win to break a tie with the 1998-99 New York Knicks for the most wins by a No. 8 seed in NBA playoff history.
The Knicks went 12-8 in the playoffs that season en route to the NBA Finals. The Heat are 12-6 thus far in these playoffs.
If Miami wins a game in this series, it will be their fifth win over a No. 1 seed thus far in these playoffs. Under this format, established by the NBA in 1984, no eighth-seeded team has posted more than four wins against top-seeded opponents. The Knicks went 4-6 against the No. 1 seeds in 1999; the Heat are 4-1 after ousting Milwaukee in Round 1 this year.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s next win will be the 814th of his career, including the playoffs. That will tie him with Gene Shue for 17th in NBA history.
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