The fourth quarter Heat strike again. Miami entered Game 2 with the best fourth-quarter point differential in the playoffs at plus-4.2 points per game, more than double the second-ranked duo of Denver and Los Angeles at plus-1.9 each.
In Game 1, the Heat won the fourth quarter 30-20 but their rally fell short as the Nuggets took a 1-0 lead. In Game 2, the Heat led the fourth quarter 32-12 with 3:39 to play before it was the Nuggets turn to put on a rally that fell short. Miami won the fourth quarter 36-25 and are now a plus-21 in the fourth for the series.
Nikola Jokic finished with a game-high 41 points but was held to just four assists as Miami tried to force Jokic into being a scorer rather than a playmaker and it worked. The Nuggets are now 0-3 this postseason when Jokic scores 40 or more points.
What makes Jokic so dangerous is his ability to score points on his own and set up his teammates. In Game 1, he finished with game highs of 27 points scored and 31 points created by his 14 assists, for a total of 58 points created. In Game 2, Jokic dropped 41 points, but created only nine points with his four assists, so despite scoring 14 more points in Game 2, Jokic’s total points created dropped by eight.
We do have to take a minute to appreciate this coast-to-coast from the big man though.
The Nuggets suffer their first home loss of the postseason after going 9-0 in the playoffs prior to Game 2. The last Nuggets loss in Denver came on March 30 – that’s 66 days without a loss in front of your home crowd. With the series tied, we’re guaranteed at least one more game at Ball Arena (Game 5 on June 12).
As the No. 8 seed, the Heat have not had home-court advantage in any series this postseason and has had to find a way to win on the road. Sunday’s win was their seventh victory away from South Beach during this postseason run.
Through three quarters, Duncan Robinson was not only scoreless, he had not even attempted a shot. But when the fourth quarter began, Robinson flipped the switch and ignited a Miami run that erased Denver’s eight-point lead heading into the final quarter, and helped the Heat take the lead for good.
The Nuggets had several defensive breakdowns in this game, with most of them costing them three points each. There were multiple instances when Denver defenders got mixed up on pick-and-rolls on the perimeter with both defenders staying on ball and a shooter flaring out for a wide-open triple. There were also multiple instances of fouling a 3-point shooter, including an egregious mistake, fouling just before the shot clock expired 30 feet from the basket.