Tue, 26 Sep 2023

Nikola Jokic, Nuggets cruise to Game 1 win over Heat

Field Level Media
02 Jun 2023, 13:05 GMT+10

Nikola Jokic finished off another triple-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists and Jamal Murray scored 26 points and dished out 10 assists as the Denver Nuggets made a statement in their first ever NBA Finals game, rolling to a 104-93 victory against the visiting Miami Heat on Thursday.

Michael Porter Jr. added 14 points and 13 rebounds while Aaron Gordon had 16 points as the Nuggets won the series opener without having to lean heavily on Jokic, even as he ended up leading the way.

Jokic wound up 8 of 12 from the field after taking just five shots through three quarters. He extended his NBA single-year record with his ninth triple-double of the playoffs.

Denver, the Western Conference's top seed, shot 59.5 percent from the field in the first half and 50.6 percent for the game while improving to 9-0 at home in the playoffs.

Bam Adebayo amassed 26 points and 13 rebounds for the Heat, but Jimmy Butler was held to 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting. The No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference failed to win the opener of a series on the road for the first time in four tries.

Gabe Vincent scored 19 points while Haywood Highsmith added 18 as the Heat shot 37.5 percent in the first half and 40.6 percent for the game. Miami was 2 of 2 from the free-throw line, an NBA Finals record for least number of free-throw attempts in a playoff game.

Jokic was content to occupy the role of playmaker in the first quarter, not taking his first shot from the field until 3.3 seconds remained. He made the close-range shot as Denver took a 29-20 lead at the end of the opening period.

The Nuggets opened their first double-digit lead at 32-22 on a 3-pointer by Murray with 10:31 remaining in the first half, and the hosts led 59-42 at halftime.

Denver grabbed its first lead of at least 20 points at 81-60 with 2:08 remaining in the third quarter on a pull-up jumper from Bruce Brown. The Nuggets went into the fourth quarter with an 84-63 advantage.

The Heat opened the final period on an 11-0 run to get within 84-74 with 9:29 remaining. The Nuggets seized control again to take a 90-74 lead with 7:16 left on a layup from Jokic and closed out the victory from there.

--Field Level Media

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