During the NBA Finals, the two teams abandoned their training center the day before the match, in favor of the floor of their room, to accommodate the more than 300 journalists present for the occasion.
The home team gets the ball rolling with a two-hour slot, the last 30 minutes of which are open to the media. There followed several press conferences, 30 minutes per team, before training for the visiting team began, again for a two-hour slot, with the first 30 minutes open to the media.
Denver: rap, laughs and Serbian reunions
The atmosphere was good at the Nuggets. With the interiors on one side, and the exteriors on the other, the two camps chained the shooting competitions with constant lightness.
Only Nikola Jokic seemed to have gotten off on the wrong foot. The double MVP looked like the teammate for whom everything is easy and who is frustrated by training. Once the shooting contests started, the spirit of competition immediately took over. On several occasions, the “Joker” came to challenge the account of an assistant coach to ensure that his team was well ahead in the score.
On the outside, buds started to keep up with the classics of Notorious Big (Juicy), Ice Cube (You Know How We Do It), Outkast (Players’ Ball) and Tupac (So Many Tears) as that 3-point shots came from five positions around the arc. Christian Braun then positioned himself on the throwing line with three or four players around him, trying to distract his teammates.
Behind the basket, Jamal Murray was trying to score by shooting over the board. After four failed tries, Collin Gillespie, the rookie point guard trained at Villanova, came to position himself next to the Canadian to convert his first try, receiving several rounds of applause from Jamal Murray. All this under the closed gaze of Mike Malone.
During the media session, we saw Nikola Jokic reappear on the floor, after going through the press conference, to answer questions from the Serbian journalists present in his place. The pivot of the Nuggets had then completely found a smile with this aside which had just brought him back to Sombor or Belgrade, while remaining on the floor of the Ball Arena.
Miami: Motown, work and operation “Let it Fly”
The “Men in Black” then took over the place. Black tracksuits, black socks, black jumpers, sprinkled with white and red from the Heat logo. We often hear about the “Heat Culture”, it has come to settle in the Ball Arena before our eyes.
Like Denver, outsides and insides each had their own half court. But unlike the Nuggets, everything was done with intensity. Each drill was designed to recreate match action. Drive in the axis or baseline, pass in the corner, 45 degree swing and 3-point shot. Everything was defined and precise.
While many backs were still stuck in a press conference, Max Strus chained 3-point shots to him at a breakneck pace, during the thirty minutes open to the media. After his 0/9 from a distance in the first game, he was like a machine, not often missing his target.
A few minutes earlier, Erik Spoelstra had repeated that his shooters, Max Strus in particular, had to “let if fly”. Translation: do not hesitate to draw because Miami will need it.
The seriousness of the Heat opposed the chosen soundtrack. Here too, we had chosen classics that do not age with a series of hits from the “Motown” period, in particular the Isley Brothers (This Old Heart of Mine).
The atmosphere then relaxed around the floor. Bam Adebayo and Udonis Haslem came to stand alongside Caron Butler, a former player now assistant coach, to lodge him. Gabe Vincent was finishing an interview with NBA TV, taking the time to thank the journalist, the cameraman and the soundman.
Then he came to sit next to Jimmy Butler. The latter had taken a position on the Miami bench, observing his team for several minutes. The two struck up a conversation, exchanging many laughs. Heat players know they have their work cut out for them, but they might as well do it with a smile.
Interview in Denver.