It was too much Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray for the Miami HEAT in game three as the Denver Nuggets cruised to a 109-94 victory to take a 2-1 lead.
Jokic had 32 points, 21 rebounds, and ten assists, while Murray added 34 points, ten rebounds, and ten assists. The star duo for the Nuggets became the first teammates in NBA Finals History to have 30-point triple-doubles in the same game.
Nuggets’ coach Mike Malone was speaking differently about his team than he did after Game 2. Specifically about Jokic and Murray, Malone said it was “By far, their greatest performance as a duo in their seven years together.”
Assisting the Nuggets duo were Christian Braun, who had an energetic 15 points off the bench, and Aaron Gordon, who added 11 points, ten rebounds and five assists.
For the HEAT, Jimmy Butler had 28 points, Bam Adebayo had 22 points and 17 rebounds, but what was echoing out of the HEAT in postgame was a lack of energy.
“Maybe we’re at home; we think we did something,” Butler said. “I don’t know. It just can’t happen. It won’t happen again. It starts with myself. I have to lock in on the defensive end. I have to go up and get loose balls. I think if I start playing and doing that, then everybody else has to follow suit.”
“I just think sometimes, for us, when we lose a lot of those physical battles, the effort plays, the loose balls, the rebounding battles, that’s our identity,” Head Coach Eric Spoelstra said. “And sometimes, that can affect the flow of the rest of your game. That’s not an excuse. I think the thing that we’ve proven over and over and over is we can win and find different ways to win regardless of whether we have confidence, regardless of whether the ball is going in.”
The HEAT will get another shot at the Nuggets when Game 4 tips off on Friday from Miami.