For the first time this postseason, the Heat trail in a series.
The Nuggets cruised to a 104-93 victory over Miami in Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals at Ball Arena in Denver on Thursday night.
The Nuggets held a lead for nearly the entire contest, never trailing after the 8:56 mark of the first quarter, as they improved to 9-0 at home this postseason. It was Denver’s first ever NBA Finals game, and the franchise is now just three wins away from its first championship.
The No. 8-seeded Heat had taken Game 1 in each of their previous three playoff series, but were doomed by cold shooting against Denver. Miami, which entered the Finals shooting 47.2% from the field and 39 percent from 3 in the playoffs, connected on just 18 of 48 field goal attempts (37.5%) and 4 of 17 3-point shots (23.5%) in the first half. Max Strus and Caleb Martin were a combined 0-for-12 from field, with Strus missing all six of his 3s.
Denver, meanwhile, shot nearly 60 percent in the opening 24 minutes. Jamal Murray’s 18 points and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic’s 10 points and 10 assists powered Denver to a 17-point halftime advantage.
The Heat would only get as close as nine late in the fourth quarter after trailing by as many as 24.
Jokic tallied a record-extending ninth triple-double of the postseason with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists. Murray added 26 points, six rebounds and 10 assists. Michael Porter Jr. (14 points), Aaron Gordon (16 points) and Bruce Brown (10 points) also scored in double figures for the Nuggets, who shot 51.3% percent overall.
Miami was led by Bam Adebayo, who recorded 26 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Jimmy Butler shot 6 of 14 for 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Butler didn’t make a single trip to the free throw line.
The Heat, who shot 40.6% overall and 13 of 39 from 3 (33.3%), got 19 points and five assists from Gabe Vincent, in addition to
Strus, meanwhile, went 0-for-10 and missed all nine of his 3s.
Game 2 of the Finals is on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.