The Denver Nuggets stand two victories away from their first NBA title and their top two players are coming off historic performances
But the Nuggets remember their Game 2 home loss and know they will need to deliver a supreme effort on Friday night when they visit the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the NBA Finals
Denver holds a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven series and are setting out to win back-to-back games in Miami. The Nuggets controlled the second half during a 109-94 win on Wednesday night
“Good win for us,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone, “but we did not come down here to get one win.
What Denver did get was history-making outings from two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
Jokic produced a stat line of 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists and became the first player ever to log at least 30 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in an NBA Finals game. It was just the fifth such contest in NBA playoff history — three coming from Jokic and one each from Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Murray scored a game-high 34 points to go with 10 rebounds and 10 assists. It represents the first game in which two players on the same team scored at least 30 points during a triple-double in NBA history.
“They played amazing,” veteran forward Jeff Green said. “They took what the defense gave them. Jokic has been doing it all year. Both of them, Jamal as well. We feed off of those guys. They make the game easy for us and we try to do the same for them.”
Denver also dominated the interior. The Nuggets had a 58-33 rebounding advantage and a 60-34 edge in points in the paint
The Heat appear to be losing steam during a playoff run that began with them claiming a berth through the play-in round and then upsetting the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round
Miami took a 3-0 lead over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. Since then, the Heat have dropped five of seven games
And if Miami falls behind 3-1, two of the final three games of the series are scheduled for Denver. The Nuggets‘ loss in Game 2 was their first in 10 home games this postseason
Heat center Bam Adebayo said the squad has faced challenging situations before
“You trust one another to do their job, and you let the chips fall where they may,” said Adebayo, who had 22 points and 17 rebounds in Game 3. “You trust 1 through 5, 1 through 15. You trust the staff. Everybody has a belief that you can get that job done.
“If everybody has that belief and everybody comes with the right mindset, that is how you can get it done.”
Jimmy Butler scored 28 points on Wednesday. The Miami star is averaging 20.7 points and shooting 42.1 percent in the series.
“I continue to be who I am,” Butler said of his Finals performance. “We will continue to be who we are as a group, as a team. We’re going to go out here and compete together. We’re going to win together.”
Meanwhile, limiting the damage from Jokic and Murray will be part of the focus. Jokic is averaging 33.3 points, 14 rebounds and 9.3 assists, while Murray is contributing 26 points, 10 assists and 6.7 rebounds.
“I think this is the time where the players show what they’ve got,” Jokic said one day after posting his 10th triple-double of the postseason.
Miami guard Tyler Herro will again sit out, coach Erik Spoelstra said Thursday. Herro broke the hand on April 16 in Game 1 of the first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks and underwent surgery on April 21.
–Field Level Media