Nuggets knock out Heat to end Miami dominance in Game 1

DENVER, COLORADO – JUNE 01: Caleb Martin #16 of the Miami Heat heads for the basket against Michael Porter Jr. #1 of the Denver Nuggets during the first quarter of Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals at Ball Arena on June 01, 2023 in Denver, Colorado.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this photograph, user accepts the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. blocks Caleb Martin’s layup during the first quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals at the Ball Arena on June 1, 2023 in Denver. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)

Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and the rest of the Denver Nuggets surrounded head coach Michael Malone in their pregame locker room Thursday night. Nine days separated the Western Conference champions from Game 1 of the NBA Finals, a game Denver would need to counter an incredible trend to win. Miami has stolen Game 1, on the road, in each of the Heat’s three series throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. Malone was adamant the streak would end at Ball Arena.

“Not tonight,” barked Malone. “Not with us.”

A dominating performance, with another masterful triple-double from All-NBA center Nikola Jokic, and the Nuggets thwarted Miami’s road winning streak by extending their own impressive streak, now 7-0 at home in this playoff after Denver’s 104-93 victory. Jokic carved out the Miami defense like a quarterback, picking up 10 first-half assists for various receivers and 10 points on just three buckets en route to a final line of 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. Wherever the two-time MVP got the ball back, whether high on the key or on the low block, Jokic found an open shooter or threw a rebound pass to a cutter through the lane.

Jokic found Aaron Gordon most often in the opening moments of the match. The Nuggets’ size on Miami’s stretched wings was one of the game scenarios league staff considered ahead of that championship game, and the early action often left Gordon isolated against the smaller Caleb Martin or point guard. of Heat Gabe Vincent – ​​both easily overpowered by the 6-foot-10 forward

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