The Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat are going to be carried by their stars Nikola Jokic and Jimmy Butler. –AFP/REUTERS PHOTOS

The Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat are going to be carried by their stars Nikola Jokic and Jimmy Butler. –AFP/REUTERS PHOTOS

Local basketball players from the UAAP, NCAA and the PBA weighed in on the upcoming NBA Finals 2023 series between the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat, in what is expected to be a classic showdown between two scrappy teams.

There was no consensus among Inquirer Sports’ respondents on who they think will win the Larry O’Brien NBA championship trophy this season.

The Heat, led by Filipino-American coach Erik Spoelstra and star player Jimmy Butler, are looking for a fairytale ending to their Cinderella campaign so far in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, going from a play-in team to a title contender.

Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, meanwhile, are favored to go all the way for their first franchise title after coming off a masterful performance against the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Western Conference Finals.

The best-of-seven NBA Finals series tips off on Friday (PH time) in Denver.

Magnolia coach Chito Victolero (Heat in 6)

Magnolia coach Chito Victolero. –PBA IMAGES

Magnolia coach Chito Victolero. –PBA IMAGES

I think in order for Miami to win they need double time to stop or limit Jokic.

Converge Jerrick Balanza (Heat in 6)

Jerrick Balanza Converge PBA

Jerrick Balanza. –PBA IMAGES

[Miami] needs to stop Jamal and Jokic but they’re unstoppable. Let’s see what adjustments they’ll do. It’s good to watch those levels of play because it’s enjoyable.

Magnolia forward Rome Dela Rosa (Nuggets in 6)

Magnolia's Rome Dela Rosa. –INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Magnolia’s Rome Dela Rosa. –INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

They’re deeper and they’re more well rested at the moment. With Jokic playing at a high level, he gets everyone involved. Jokic is going to be key as always.

Magnolia guard Mark Barroca (Heat in 7)

Mark Barroca Magnolia PBA

Magnolia guard Mark Barroca. –PBA IMAGES

For me I ride with underdogs, they’ll bring the dog fight. They have to contain Jokic. He’s the best player now in the NBA, any schemes, he can read, his IQ is like 1,000. It’s like he can’t be stopped. For me, you can’t really do much so you have to stop other players as well like Jamal Murray and others.

Magnolia guard  Paul Lee (Nuggets in 6)

Paul Lee Magnolia Hotshots PBA

Magnolia guard Paul Lee. –PBA IMAGES

It’s about time to win the championship for them. They’re a very solid team, they have a very deep bench but it’s hard to choose between them because Miami’s heart is different.

Gilas Women coach Pat Aquino (Nuggets in 7)

Pat Aquino

Gilas Pilipinas women coach Pat Aquino. –INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Became a big fan of Jokic this season especially his tandem with Murray. I also like how the Nuggets play even on their journey to the Finals.

But don’t count out the Heat with their amazing coach, our very own coach Spo. [They] have a very good defensive team. The matchups will be great this NBA finals and I will be excited to watch it through the whole series.

St. Benilde coach Charles Tiu (Nuggets in 6)

FILE–Strong Group coach Charles Tiu.

St. Benilde Blazers coach Charles Tiu.  –INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

[Denver Nuggets have] too much firepower offensively.

Denver is a great team and would likely win the series but I’m rooting for the Heat to win it. I like their mentality of never giving up until the final buzzer. It shows the winning culture that they have and being underdogs they show the world what they can also win against stronger teams with teamwork.

Former UP guard Ricci Rivero (Heat in 7)

Ricci Rivero signs with Taiwan P.League + as Asian import

Former UP Fighting Maroons Ricci Rivero –UAAP PHOTO

First, I wanted the Lakers to be there that’s why I don’t want Denver to win. I like how Jimmy [Butler] leads his team. I believe in Coach Spo and his system.

UP guard Harold Alarcon (Nuggets in 5)

UP Fighting Maroons' Harold Alarcon. –FILOIL PHOTO

UP Fighting Maroons’ Harold Alarcon. –FILOIL PHOTO

The Nuggets are stronger and more complete compared to Miami. I expect Miami to fight, but Jimmy [Bulter] will get tired.

Former Letran guard Brent Paraiso (Heat in 7)

Brent Paraiso Letran NCAA

Former Letran guard Brent Paraiso. –NCAA PHOTO


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