NBA Finals: The Denver Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals 104-93 thanks in large part to Nikola Jokic, who maintained his composure and finished with another triple-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 assists.
Jokic told ABC, “Right now, winning a game is the most important thing, and I’m trying to win a game in every way I can. I didn’t need to shoot or score to have an impact on the game, and I believe I did a decent job today. Everyone participated.”
To his point, he was correct. ‘the Joker’ hardly had to flex his biceps thanks to Jamal Murray’s 26 points and 10 assists and Michael Porter Jr.’s 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Instead, nine days after he and his teammates defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the Conference finals, he extended his NBA single-year record with his ninth triple-double of the playoffs.
Only Bam Adebayo scored more than 20 points for the Heat while Jimmy Butler was limited to 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting, highlighting the team’s obvious lack of rotation.
The Heat’s Erik Spoelstra said of the Nuggets, “They were in a pretty good rhythm, especially in that first half.”
“Our attitude, our efforts, and our commitment were much better in the second half. However, it must be complete games of that nature after you reach this level.”
Jokic was content to play the role of the facilitator in the opening period, delaying his first field goal attempt by 3.3 seconds. At the conclusion of the opening frame, Denver had a 29-20 advantage thanks to his close-range effort.
The Nuggets took their first double-digit lead at 32-22 with 10:31 remaining in the first half after a 3-pointer by Murray. At the half, the hosts were up 59-42.
On a pull-up jumper by Bruce Brown with 2:08 left in the third quarter, Denver took its first lead of at least 20 points, 81-60. With a lead of 84-63 entering the fourth quarter, the Nuggets were in the lead.
With 7:16 left in the game, a basket by Jokic gave the Nuggets a 90-74 lead, and they went on to win the game. With 9:29 remaining, the Heat went on an 11-0 run to start the fourth session and cut the lead to 84-74.
“I definitely think [Denver] came out with a lot of physicality, and we have to be able to match that,” stated Butler, who claimed he was unaffected by the effort put out to win the Eastern Conference finals in seven games.
“They performed their duties on their own floor. You must state that. But we’ll be prepared, we’ll change, and we’ll act differently.”
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