FOX Sports NBA Writer
Throughout these playoffs, there have been two things that the Denver Nuggets have done better than any other team. Score, and win on their home court. Both those trends continued Thursday in Game 1 of the NBA Finals – the franchise’s first-ever game in the championship round – as the Nuggets thumped the Miami Heat, 104-93.
Per usual, Nikola Jokic led the way for Denver with 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds, his ninth triple-double of the playoffs. Jamal Murray added in 26 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. With the win, the Nuggets improved to 9-0 at home this postseason.
The Heat were led by Bam Adedayo, who racked up 26 points and 12 rebounds. This is the Heat’s first Game 1 loss of the playoffs.
Stats to know
Jokic field-goal attempts: 12
This is what makes Jokic the best offensive player in the NBA. There’s just no answer for him. You can limit his shot attempts and still get torched, whether it means hitting Aaron Gordon on a cut or springing Murray open with a devastating screen.
Heat 3-point shooting: 13 for 39
One of the reasons the Heat have been able to turn things around in the playoffs is because they’ve caught fire from deep. They’ve drilled 39% of their triples during the playoffs, a giant jump from the 34.4% they shot from deep during the regular season. But in Game 1, they went cold. The chief culprits: Max Strus (0-9) and Duncan Robinson (1-5).
Heat free-throw attempts: 2
This is a record for fewest in an NBA Finals game.
Play of the Game
It’s more than one play, but how can you not just sit back and appreciate this level of greatness? We’ve never seen a player like this. Right now, it looks like there’s no answer.
Up next for the Nuggets
What makes this team so great is that they’re not the ones that have to make adjustments. Because of Jokic’s dominance, and the many ways he’s able to dominate, all the Nuggets have to do is sit back and take what the defense’s give them.
The Heat did go to a zone defense in the fourth quarter, and it did seem to slow the Nuggets down a bit, but the game was already over by then. Maybe the Heat lean on it more in Game 2.
But it’s worth pointing out that during the regular season the Nuggets were No. 2 in the league in points per possession when facing a zone.
Up next for the Heat
The one thing the Heat can take solace in is that many of their missed 3s came off good looks. Maybe a few extra days in Denver and getting used to the altitude helps some of their snipers and some of those shots fall in Game 2.
They’ll also have to figure out a way to get to the free-throw line. Because it doesn’t matter how effective their zone defense is. If they don’t generate more points they have no shot.
Yaron Weitzman is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He is the author of “Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports.” Follow him on Twitter @YaronWeitzman.
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