NBA Finals 2023 - Game 1 analysis: Nikola Jokic’s Denver Nuggets turn up the ‘Heat’!

Nikola Jokic produced yet another triple-double performance – 27 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists – but the side around him, too, delivered in the game giving Denver Nuggets a win over Miami Heat in game 1 of the 2023 NBA finals.

Published : Jun 03, 2023 12:18 IST , CHENNAI - 2 MINS READ

The NBA Finals are underway. And with them, come the early predictions on who takes home the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Seeing how Denver Nuggets outclassed Miami Heat in the opening game, many would be lured into picking the first-time NBA finalists as the favourites.

It was one-way traffic from start to finish. People say it is the altitude that helps the Nuggets - a team undefeated at home these playoffs. Maybe, that’s true. But on Thursday night, coach Michael Malone’s team gave a glimpse of its calibre too, and why they won the Western Conference honours.

Nikola Jokic produced yet another triple-double performance – 27 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists – but the side around him, too, delivered in the game.

Aaron Gordon came as quite the surprise for Miami Heat. Nuggets stationed Gordon under the rim. With Bam Adebayo occupied trying to contain ‘the Joker’, Gordon wrecked havoc in the first quarter.

12 of his 16 points in the game came in the first period. Miami’s lack of supporting big men was laid bare as the Nuggets took a comfortable nine-point lead. A nine-point lead in a quarter when Jokic scored just two points. That’s a statement.

Caleb Martin scored three points and Max Strus failed to open his account altogether. Duncan Robinson too gave just three points off the bench. Three significant contributors to the team failed to make a mark. In the Finals, against a team as good as the Nuggets, that’s going to cost you. Period.

Miami Heat makes nearly 40% shots from a distance of 25-29 feet. It leads the playoffs in three-point efficiency at nearly 39%. On Thursday, this number dropped down to 33%.

While the Heat succumbed to a defeat, all was not lost for coach Erik Spoelstra.

Even when a bulk of the shooters misfired, Adebayo kept the team going. He had his troubles under the rim in offense against Boston Celtics. On Thursday, he banished them, scoring 26 points at 52% shooting.

The Miami shooting will return. And when it does, Adebayo’s points will prove supplementary. Game winning!

The one thing that the Heat have done these playoffs is spring surprises. Count them out this early in the series at your own peril.

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