Q&A with Stephen A.: ESPN host's take on who's putting the basketball world on notice during Finals

Brittaney Wilmore Image
Friday, June 9, 2023
Q&A with Stephen A. Smith: Nuggets 'putting basketball world on notice'
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We stepped into Stephen A's world to get his take on the NBA Finals, if Tomball native Jimmy Butler and the Heat can mount a comeback and who's lounging in yachts in Biscayne Bay.

Coming off stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray's historic Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night, the Denver Nuggets are two wins away from grabbing their first championship.

But is the fire completely out for the Miami Heat or is there still time to light a comeback?

Game 2 was the Heat's 7th double-digit comeback win of the postseason, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

And though the Heat might be able to pull off a Game 4 win on Friday night, Stephen A. Smith, host of ESPN's "First Take" and the "Stephen A. Smith Show," told ABC13 he expects the Nuggets to win the series.

"Well, anybody that's watching this series knows that the Denver Nuggets are the superior team. They've got a superstar in Nikola Jokic, who right now is the best player in the world. They've got another star in Jamal Murray, who is just lethal and the combination of those two just seems too much," Smith said, noting how during Game 3, Jokic and Murray became the first teammates to record 30-point triple-doubles.

The historic moment lifted the Nuggets to a 109-94 win and a 2-1 series lead.

Now, the series continues in Miami. But there might not be much the Heat can do to stop the Nuggets from snuffing out their flame.

"One of their stars, Tyler Herro, has been hurt, been down with a broken hand since Game 1 of the playoffs. Ever since then, they've had to go on without him," Smith said.

"They're (Miami) going up against a superior team and the only shot they have is to hit three-point shots. Against Boston, Boston was winning in every category but three-point shooting, and three-point shooting is what saved the day for Miami," he continued. "But even that is pushing it as far as three-point shooing."

Tomball native Jimmy Butler has also tried to save the day for his struggling Heat teammates, despite stellar performances that helped get Miami this far in the first place.

"Miami is built on grit and guts led by Jimmy Butler, who's clearly not 100%. He's walking around hobbled with that messed up ankle that he still hasn't recovered from. He's doing his best," Smith said. "You can expect the Miami Heat to scratch and claw. It might even win them another game."

"It just can't happen. It won't happen again. It starts with myself. I have to lock in on the defensive end. I have to go up and get loose balls. I think if I start playing and doing that, then everybody else has to follow suit," Butler told ESPN after the Game 3 loss.

Still, if you know nothing else about the Finals, Smith says you should keep some key names in mind because you'll likely hear them again even after this series is over.

"Jokic is a star. You can't ignore his stardom. Jamal Murray is a star as well. And Denver appears to be the team of the future. It's not to say they're going to be the Golden State Warriors who won four titles in six years, but understand these stars are 27 and 25 years of age respectively. They've got a bunch of other dudes that are under 28 years of age. The Denver Nuggets are basically putting the basketball world on notice," Smith said.

Before those stars hit the court, one of TV's most outspoken personalities shared with ABC13 he has some solid Friday plans.

"I'm going to lounge. I'm going to chill out at Biscayne Bay in the yachts, and enjoy a nice lunch," began Smith, who is also the author of "Straight Shooter."

While in Miami, Smith has resurrected his alter ego "Esteban," though, the moniker won't sound as spicy when the series shifts back to Denver.

Stephen A. devotees also know he's got another name he goes by, Brick, thanks to his recurring role on "General Hospital."

But there's no TV script for what might happen in Game 4, so it's back to work for Smith. "And then, after that, I'm going to do my podcast, which is called 'The Stephen A. Smith Show.' I'll do that live, and once I finish that, I've got to head over to the game and get ready to roll," he said.

It'll also be back to work for the Heat and the Nuggets who will face off Friday night at 7:30 p.m. on ABC13.

Remaining schedule:

Game 5 - Monday, June 12, 7:30 p.m., in Denver (ABC)

Game 6 - Thursday, June 15, 7:30 p.m., in Miami (ABC) *if necessary

Game 7 - Sunday, June 18, 7 p.m., in Denver (ABC) *if necessary

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