The Denver Nuggets were anxious to deliver their first complete NBA Finals game from tip to buzzer without sleepy lapses, and let’s just say half the crowd at Kaseya Center didn’t bother to stick around to see the results.
Fans beat the traffic well before the Nuggets, officially anyway, beat the Miami Heat 109-94 in Game 3. It was that thorough of a win, and the fourth quarter for a change was that undramatic.
There was too much Denver defense, too little Miami help for Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, and not one but two too many 30-point triple-doubles by the tremendous give-and-go tandem of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray — that’s never happened before in any game, regular or postseason.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Nuggets also introduced Christian … LeBraun?
The backup rookie guard (given name: Braun) stole the shine for a generous second-half stretch when he stayed locked in attack mode — he scored 15 points in 19 game-clinching minutes. He notably stole a pass from Butler and dunked, giving Denver a source of energy that caught Miami by surprise.All told, the way the Nuggets seized the lead in the Finals was reassuring for them, problematic for the Heat. It’s now 2-1, the Nuggets two wins from a title, the Heat two days from hosting another game and a chance to crawl back into the series and keep from falling dangerously behind.
Here are five takeaways from the Nuggets’ impressive Game 3 win, why their confidence is soaring ‘sand why the Heat had trouble scoring.
He only cares about the championship trophy, and believe him when he says that. And maybe that’ll happen by next week. But along the way, Jokic is building quite a case to be included among the top five-ish centers of all time. And Wednesday was another legitimate step in that direction.
The dominance he’s showing in this series is impressive — and again, he’s doing it against Adebayo, a solid defender. “The Joker” became the first player to register a 30-20-10 line in a Finals game (officially, 32-21-10) and simply was too much for the Heat to handle.
The way Jokic is locked in, relentless and driven in this series is the attitude we’ve seen from other greats in past Finals. He has yet to have a poor game or make many mistakes, and is easily the most consistent Nugget in the series. In Game 3, Jokic mainly confined his damage in the paint, both with his baby hooks, tap-ins and layups, and also with his defensive rebounding (18), limiting Miami to just one shot on a score of possessions.
“He’s going to do what he’s gong to do,” said Heat guard Kyle Lowry. “He’s seven feet. He can pretty much do everything.”
Here are Jokic’s three games in this series: 27-10-14, 41-11-4 and now 32-21-10. Unless something drastically changes in his demeanor — and don’t count on that — or he endures an unexpected dry spell, Jokic has a look we’ve seen before this time of year — from Finals MVPs and champions.