After falling behind 2-0 in the NBA Finals and being the away team in a hostile arena where no road team had won in more than two months, the Miami Heat decided to continue doing what they’ve done throughout the postseason.
They came up with a solution. Against all odds. Again.
The Heat were able to force a tie in the NBA Finals despite a tremendous performance by Nikola Jokic, who scored 41 points. On Sunday night, the Heat defeated the Denver Nuggets 111-108 in Game 2 of their playoff series. Gabe Vincent led the scoring with 23 points, while Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo each added 21.
“Our guys are competitors,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “Our guys are going to compete.” “They live for moments like these,” we said.
They were behind by as many as 15 points and eight points behind going into the fourth quarter; these stats indicated that they were likely to lose the game. When leading by at least eight points heading into the fourth quarter, Denver went a perfect 11-0 in the playoffs and finished the regular season with a 37-1 record when in such a position.
The Heat were unconcerned. They took the lead for good by outscoring Denver 17-5 in the opening three minutes and seventeen seconds of the fourth quarter, finally went up by twelve, then frittered away much of it, and had to survive a three-point attempt by Jamal Murray as time ran out.
Adebayo clarified that this was the concluding round. “We took the insides out of it.”
Wednesday will be the day for Game 3 in Miami.
Max Strus and Duncan Robinson scored 10 points for the Heat, with all of their issues coming in the fourth quarter. The Heat jumped off to an early lead but eventually found themselves trailing by as much as 15 points. They did not have any answers for Jokic, who made 16 of 28 field goal attempts, the last of which was a 4-footer with 36 seconds left to play that brought the Nuggets within three points of the Blazers.
The decision not to commit a foul by Denver during the subsequent possession by Miami proved to be successful. In the last seconds of the game, with a chance to level the score, Murray missed a 3-pointer right before the buzzer.
“I just contested it,” remarked Butler when he finished speaking. “I’m pretty relieved that he didn’t see it.”
It was the first time since March 30 that Denver had lost at home, and it was also the first time Denver had lost at home in any of their ten home playoff games this season. And much like he did after the Nugget’s victory in Game 1, coach Michael Malone sounded the alarm following the team’s defeat in Game 2.
“Let’s talk about effort,” Malone said. “Let’s talk about it.” “I mean, we’re talking about effort, and we’re watching the NBA Finals,” he said. That is one of my primary areas of concern. When I mentioned it after Game 1, you probably believed I was making up some tale because I said we didn’t play well. We didn’t play well. We are not in the preseason. This is not a game during the regular season. This is the final game of the NBA season.
For Denver, Murray scored 18 points and dished out ten assists, while Aaron Gordon and Bruce Brown each scored 11 points.
“They just played hard, and like I said, it was more discipline,” Murray said. “It was a great game to watch.” “It’s defeating when you’re giving up mistake after mistake, and it’s not them beating you so much as you’re giving them open dunks or open shots,” That’s not an easy hole to climb out of.”
Strus, who shot 0 for 10 in the first game, made four 3-point shots in the first quarter of the second game. After a jumper by Butler with 4:56 remaining in the first quarter, Miami took the lead for good, increasing their advantage to 21-10 and tying the second-largest lead that any opponent has taken in Denver thus far in these playoffs.
It vanished instantly, taking the rest of its belongings with it.
An utter 3-point onslaught from the Nuggets allowed them to transform a double-digit deficit into a double-digit lead over the following nine minutes of play against the Heat.
Brown, Jeff Green, Murray, and Eric Gordon were the four players that made three-point shots for Denver during a space of 70 seconds early in the second quarter. These three-pointers were responsible for more points for the Nuggets than Miami scored in the preceding 9 minutes combined.
The boom, the boom, the boom, and the boom. The scoring frenzy was finally put to rest by Murray with five straight points, and Denver finished the game in the lead, 44-32. Things would work out well for Denver.
Miami maintained that the opposite was true. And in a game that was decided by a margin of five points or fewer, the Heat triumphed for the 44th time this season. This one was the largest of all of them by far.
“When it comes down to the wire,” remarked Vincent, “we’re strangely comfortable.”
Caleb Martin, who was sick on Saturday and could not participate in practice, is coming off the bench for the Heat. Kevin Love has returned to the starting lineup for the Heat after missing the last game. The Heat broke a tie for the most wins ever by a No. 8 seed with the 1999 New York Knicks when they secured their 13th victory of these playoffs.
Jokic of the Nuggets became the 14th different player in NBA history to score at least 41 points in a championship game loss. Since May 7, Denver had not suffered a defeat in a contest over the past four weeks. Alex English, LaPhonso Ellis (who finished his NBA career in Miami), and David Thompson are just a few of the legendary Nuggets players that were present.