The Denver Nuggets have looked every bit as dominant in the early part of the 2023-24 NBA season as they did during their Finals run in 2023, when they obliterated every team in their path en route to the title. During that postseason run, the Nuggets lost only four games, proving that they were a tier above the rest of the field.
Denver didn’t exactly have an easy path to the championship either. While their stellar play in the regular season did clinch them the one seed and home-court advantage throughout the postseason, the way the rest of the standings and the Play-In Tournament shook out, the Nuggets certainly didn’t draw the breeziest opponents available. Let’s look at how the Nuggets stack up in contrast to the overall champion predictions.
Denver Nuggets dominant 2023 championship run
For the first round, they drew the upstart Minnesota Timberwolves and endured the full brunt of Anthony Edwards’s coming out party as a true NBA superstar. The T-Wolves had made plenty of roster moves to try to field a better roster around Edwards, including adding multiple-time Defensive Player of the Year winner Rudy Gobert. Even with Gobert joining a talented squad featuring Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Jaden McDaniels, Denver made quick work of the new-look Wolves, dispatching them in just five games.
Following their gentleman’s sweep of the Wolves, the Nuggets earned the privilege of playing the Phoenix Suns and their new superstar duo of Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. While most of the Colorado sports betting landscape still had faith in the Nuggets, the acquisition of KD put some fear into local betting markets as future bets dwindled. Denver’s depth was the separating factor, as they raced past Phoenix in the second round, but Book and KD’s offensive greatness was able to steal the Suns two victories.
The Nuggets reward for toppling Phoenix was a second-round clash against LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the other Los Angeles Lakers. Any series against James, one of the two greatest players in league history, isn’t to be taken lightly. The series ended in a sweep in Denver’s favor, but all of the games went down to the wire. The sweep was a raging endorsement for Denver’s dominance, not any kind of indictment on James and the Lakers. In that series, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray’s two-man game simply proved to be too much for the veteran Lakers to try to contain for a full series.
In the Finals, they ran into a red-hot Miami Heat team, led by Jimmy Butler in a Cinderella run that started in the Play-In Tournament and resulted in upsets over Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, the New York Knicks, and the Boston Celtics. Miami seemed like the team of destiny, not only shocking fans around the world during their run, but also surviving a rousing comeback from the Celtics after going up 3-0, only to win a Game 7 to prevent the first reverse sweep in NBA history and advance to the Finals.
Denver Nuggets 2024 NBA Championship odds
And yet, Nikola Jokic and the rest of the Denver Nuggets weren’t scared of destiny. They made quick work of an exhausted Heat team, knocking them off in just five quick games to seal their title run and come home with the Larry O’Brien.
Despite their dominance throughout that postseason run and their league-leading 6-1 record to start the 2023-24 campaign, the Nuggets have yet to earn the respect of Vegas oddsmakers. Denver might not have made the splashiest additions of the offseason, but they should be the favorites until proven otherwise. Yet, most sportsbooks have them behind both the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks for championship odds. BetMGM has them tied for third-best odds with the Phoenix Suns at +550. Who knew the defending champions would turn out to be a decent dark-horse pick for the title.