Nuggets take full command of NBA Finals, leading Heat 108-95, 3-1

MIAMI (AP) — The Denver Nuggets’ mission was clear. Come to Miami, win two games, and come home with a chance to eventually become an NBA champion.

It is now officially available.

Denver’s 47-year wait may end as soon as Monday. The Nuggets, led by Nikola Jokic, are just one win away from the long-desired title. With Aaron Gordon adding 27 points and Jokic adding 23, the Nuggets beat the Miami Heat 108-95 Friday night to take a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals.

“We haven’t done anything yet,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I have to win one more match to become world champion.”

The Nuggets were in full command with Bruce Brown scoring 21 off the bench and winning five straight road games. They have three chances to win one game for the title, two in Denver and the first in Game 5, which is sure to be a tumultuous atmosphere.

Jamal Murray had 15 points and 12 assists for Denver, his fourth consecutive game of double-digit assists.

“Today was a team effort,” Murray said. “I can’t even name one. They’re all locked up. There’s only one left.”

With Jimmy Butler scoring 25 points, Miami have gone 3-1 in each of their last three final appearances, following 2014 and 2020. For the Heat, Bam Adebayo added 20 points and 11 rebounds and Kyle Lowry added 13 points. point.

The Heat left the floor in silence, fully aware of how predicament they were in.

“We’re in a situation where we have to win every game right now, and we can do that,” Butler said. “It’s not impossible.”

The Nuggets were the overwhelming favorites to win the series opener, and it’s easy to see why. Denver was the #1 seed in the Western Conference. Miami was the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Nuggets have won nine of the two teams’ last 10 regular-season meetings, and their streak against the Heat continues into the final four games.

“Our guys are trapped,” Malone said. “We are focused.”

With Denver leading 13 points into the fourth quarter, Miami entered the final quarter in proper desperation. The Heat stole their first eight points and Jokic committed his fifth foul, sending him off the bench with 9:24 remaining, but Butler made a 3-point play with 8:42 remaining to make it 86-0. Went down to 81.

But even though the Nuggets lost their only loss of the series in the fourth quarter of Game 2, they held on, even though they were still missing two MVPs. Murray stopped Miami’s 8-0 run with a 3-point shot, and Jeff Green scored a big corner 3 near the heat bench to take a 94-85 lead with 6:21 remaining.

“We have guys who can step up every night,” Gordon said.

Jokic checked out Denver with 10 points up and came back with the Nuggets up 9 points. Miami failed to capitalize on its chances and now finds itself at the wrong end of history. Teams that had to scramble just to make the playoffs now need to perform the ultimate scramble to win the championship.

Heat Guard’s Duncan Robinson said, “This has been everything this year has been for this group, and I’m definitely not going to put my head down or quit.” “It’s not an option. It’s not going to happen. So we’re going to get on this plane tomorrow as a group and find a way to solve it.”

A 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals has won 35 of their last 36, and the Heat will have to buck the trend to prevent Denver from winning the title.

“We have an incredibly competitive group,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said. “We’ve done everything the hard way, and that’s how it has to be done again now. And all we’re focused on is getting this back on the 305. This back to Miami, and things can change very quickly.”

tip in

The Nuggets: Jokic nudged his right ankle midway through the first quarter when he landed on the sole of Max Strass’ foot. He retired to Denver’s locker room before the start of the second quarter, but played the rest of the game without any notable problems. … Murray played with tape protecting the back of his left hand after suffering a severe burn to the floor in Game 3. …it was Denver’s 25th win on the road this season, tying the franchise record set last season. …Michael Porter Jr. scored 11 points.

Heat: It was the 43rd birthday of retiring 20-year veteran Udonis Haslem and the 20th birthday of rookie Nikola Jovic. Jovic was 58 days old when Haslem signed his first Heat contract. …If it’s Miami’s final home game of the season, the Heat would go 613-299 at home in his career. …Miami started the playoffs 6-0 at home. Since then, the Heat have gone 0-4 on their home floor. …Robinson and Kevin Love scored 12 each and Caleb Martin scored 11.

slow start

Miami led 21-20 after the first quarter. The total of 41 points was the fewest in the first quarter of the last 24 finals. He scored 40 points in the first quarter of Game 4 of the 2019 Toronto-Golden State Series.

celebrity watch

Along with Kentucky coach John Calipari, Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker, two-time WNBA MVP Aja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces, Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields, And Haley and Hannah Cabinder, the twins who helped the Miami Hurricanes win, were in the crowd. Elite Eight for this year’s NCAA Women’s Tournament.


AP NBA: and Nuggets take full command of NBA Finals, leading Heat 108-95, 3-1

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