Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray write the story, Christian Braun in the X factor, open house operation in the Heat’s paint… The tops and flops after Denver’s success in Miami (94-109) on Wednesday.
Jokic/Murray, winning ticket
What a festival of Denver’s two stars. We had never seen two teammates finish in a triple-double with 30 points or more, not in the final, not in the play-offs or in the regular season. It’s done. Nikola Jokic ed 32 points (12/21), 21 rebounds and 10 ists, becoming the first player with at least 30 points, 20 rebounds and 10 “ists” in the final. Beyond the figures, the double Serbian MVP perfectly played its role of control tower on the occasion of this 109-94 victory on the boards of the Kaseya Center, often at the head of the racket, and represented an insoluble problem for the defense of Miami throughout the meeting. 34 points at 12/22 for Jamal Murray, with 10 rebounds and as many ists. The interested party took pleasure in scoring when his team needed it the most and when it hurt the most in Miami, to stop the “runs” and air-condition the room. “This is by far their best performance as a duo, in seven years“ignited their happy coach Mike Malone. It’s hard to fault him…
Braun, the X factor
If Aaron Gordon (11 pts, 10 rbs, 5 pds) did good in the fight, the impact of Christian Braun was significant. Off the bench, the latter hurt the Heat in the second half. He scored 15 points on 7 of 8 on shots, finishing Denver’s third-leading scorer in that game. The X factor was him on Wednesday in Florida.
Butler and Adebayo far too alone
We would talk about the big double-double of Bam Adebayo, with all the same 22 points and 17 rebounds, but his ugly 7/21 hurt his people. He was still valuable and without him, the locals would have lowered their flag long before the end… Jimmy Butler therefore strived to stay the course with his 28 units (11/24), even if he didn’t picked up only two small rebounds in this game, contributing to the bankruptcy of his team in this sector (see elsewhere). In any case, it would have taken a lot more, in attack and defense, to allow Miami to win, despite this close to -9 at the very end of the game after two increased signed Duncan Robinson (9 pts). And this even if the Nuggets relied a lot on their stars and they only returned 27.8% of their shots from long distance.
Holes in the racket on the Miami side
Clumsy from afar (27.8%), the Nuggets found the parade by making their butter in the Gruyère defense of the Heat in the racket. They scored 60 of their 109 points in the paint (!), compared to Miami’s 34. The rebound battle also turned to the advantage of Nikola Jokic and company (58 to 33). Under these conditions, it is already almost miraculous to have seen the Floridians return to -9 in the last minutes of the meeting, after having accused a disburt of 21 points at the height of the domination of the visitors. Poor Bam Adebayo can certainly not do everything alone, but he can and must do better, that’s for sure. He finished with a +/- at -22. Note that he took one more rebound than all of his little comrades… in CUMULE (17 against 16).
Porter Jr can’t make it
Already discreet in Game 2, Michael Porter Jr continued on his (bad) momentum. Only 2 small points for him, at 1/7 on shots. He still grabbed 7 rebounds, making himself useful in the shadow spots. Not enough. He walks on trust and clearly, he doesn’t. “KCP” did not bring much either (6 pts, 1/4).
Vincent/Strus, faulty rear traction
The holders of the back line of Miami contributed only up to 10 points and 3 of 17 shots if we talk about scoring. Far too little to try to win against the Denver armada, that’s clear. Gabe Vincent, however, remained on two solid performances against the Nuggets, while Max Strus woke up in Game 2.