The objective for the Denver Nuggets was crystal clear: travel to Miami, pick up two victories and return to Denver knowing that they have a shot at winning the NBA championship.
It can now be legally taken by whoever wants it.
Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets are now just one victory away from winning the championship that Jokic has yearned for such a long time, which means that the 47-year wait for Denver may end as soon as Monday. On Friday night, the Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat 108-95 to take a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Aaron Gordon led the Nuggets in scoring with 27 points, and Jokic added 23 more.
“We haven’t done a damn thing yet,” the coach of the Nuggets, Michael Malone, stated. “We still need to win one more game before we can call ourselves world champions.”
The Nuggets won their fifth consecutive game away from home to seize complete control of the situation. Bruce Brown scored 21 points off the bench for the Nuggets. They will have three opportunities to win one game for the championship, including two options in Denver and the first opportunity in what is sure to be a rowdy environment for Game 5.
Denver’s Jamal Murray finished with 15 points and 12 assists, marking the fourth game in a row where he had double-digit assists.
“We accomplished a lot as a team today,” Murray stated. “I can’t even think of a single individual to name. Everyone was unable to leave. There will be one more after this.”
Jimmy Butler scored 25 points for Miami, which has now been eliminated from the finals after falling behind by a score of 3-1 in each of its last three visits (this one joining 2014 and 2020). Butler had a triple-double. Bam Adebayo led the Heat with 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Kyle Lowry contributed 13 points to the team’s total.
The Heat left the arena in complete silence, very aware of the precarious situation they currently find themselves in.
According to Butler, “Now we’re in a must-win situation, every single game,” which is something the team is capable of doing. The answer is, “It’s not impossible.”
The Nuggets entered the series as the prohibitive favorites for a number of reasons, and it was easy to see why. Denver was given the top spot in the Western Conference, while Miami was given the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Their streak of success against the Heat has continued through the first four games of the finals. The Nuggets had prevailed against the Heat in nine of the previous ten regular-season matchups between the teams.
“Our guys are locked in, man,” Malone remarked. “Our guys are locked in.” “Our attention is centered.”
Denver held a 13-point lead heading into the final quarter, and Miami began the last period playing with the necessary level of desperation. The Heat scored the first eight points of the game; Jokic was forced to the bench after committing his fifth foul with 9:24 remaining, and the game was close until Butler executed a three-point play with 8:42 left to play, bringing the score to 86-81.
But the Nuggets, who suffered their only loss of the series in Game 2 after falling apart in the fourth quarter, didn’t give up, even though their two-time Most Valuable Player was still sidelined. After an 8-0 run by Miami, Murray sank a 3-pointer to stop the run, and Jeff Green made a massive corner 3-pointer from near the Heat bench to give the Heat a 94-85 lead with 6:21 left to play.
“We have guys that can step up, night in and night out,” Gordon said. “We have guys that can step up.”
Jokic exited the game with Denver leading by 10. When he returned, the Nuggets had a nine-point lead. Since Miami did not make the most of that opportunity, the city is now on the wrong side of history. A squad that struggled merely to make it into the playoffs now faces the ultimate challenge of overcoming adversity to claim a championship.
“This is what this year has been all about for this group, so definitely not going to hang our heads or quit,” said Heat guard Duncan Robinson. “This is what this group has been working toward all year.” “There is no way around that. That is not going to take place. Therefore, we will form a coalition, board the plane tomorrow, and work together to solve this problem.
In the previous 35 out of 36 instances, teams that took a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals went on to win the series. If the Heat wants to prevent Denver from winning the championship, they will need to buck this tendency.
“We have an incredibly competitive group,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra remarked about his team. “Up until now, everything has been accomplished by laborious means, and we anticipate that this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. And from now on, our sole concentration will be regaining access to room 305. Bring this monster back to Miami as soon as possible. And the situation can change quite suddenly.”
Jokic suffered a sprain to his right ankle as he landed on the back of Max Strus’ foot in the middle of the first quarter of the game. Nuggets. He went into the Denver locker room for a few moments before the beginning of the second quarter but continued to play the rest of the game with no obvious problems. Because of a terrible floor burn, he sustained in Game 3, Murray was forced to play with a piece of tape on the bottom of his left hand. It was Denver’s 25th win away from home this season, tying a record for the team that had been set the previous year. Michael Porter Jr scored eleven points.
It was Udonis Haslem’s 43rd birthday, who is retiring after 20 years with the Heat, and Nikola Jovic’s 20th birthday, who is a rookie with the team. Haslem had just signed his first contract with the Heat when Jovic was 58 days old. If it was the final game at home for Miami this season, then the Heat finished his tenure with a record of 613-299 in games played at Miami Arena. At home, Miami started the playoffs with a perfect 6-0 record. Since then, the Heat have a history of 0-4 on their home court. Caleb Martin scored 11, Robinson and Kevin Love scored 12, and Robinson scored 12 assists.