The Denver Nuggets entered Game 1 of the NBA Finals and did what they have done all season, protect their home court. In their first Finals game ever, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murry led their team to a 104-93 victory over Jimmy Butler and the Miami HEAT.
The game started with force as Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon overpowered smaller defenders of the HEAT for eight points in the first quarter and set the pace for a wire-to-wire win.
Jokic had 27 points, 14 assists, and ten rebounds, adding another triple-double to his playoffs run. Jamal Murray added 26 points and ten assists. Michael Porter Jr. scored 14 and added 13 rebounds.
For the HEAT, Bam Adebayo gave a monster performance of 26 points and 13 rebounds. HEAT star Jimmy Butler only had 13 points on 6-for-14 shooting from the field. More alarming for the HEAT was their lack of free throws, only getting to the line twice. Butler spoke on free throws and additional offensive woes after the game.
“Probably because we shot a lot of jump shots, myself probably leading that pack, instead of putting pressure on the rim,” Butler said.. “Getting layups, getting to the free throw line. When you look at it during the game, they all look like the right shots.
“And I’m not saying that we can’t as a team make those, but got to get more layups, got to get more free throws. And whenever you miss and don’t get back, the game gets out of hand kind of quickly. We gave up too many layups, which we also can’t have happen. But that’s it as a whole. We’ve got to attack the rim a lot more, myself included.”
On the other end of the ball, Nuggets coach Mike Malone spoke about his star player, Nikola Jokic.
“I learned a long time ago, the defense tells you what to do, and Nikola never forces it,” Malone said. “If they’re going to give him that kind of attention, he had 10 assists at halftime. Well, he’s going to just pick you apart.”
The HEAT will now attempt to recover and get a win during Game 2 this Sunday.