DENVER — DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic had a triple-double in his NBA Finals debut, Jamal Murray scored 26 points and the Denver Nuggets had little trouble with the Miami Heat cold shot on the way to a 104-93 win in Game 1 on Thursday night.
Jokic finished with 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who waited 47 years to advance to the Finals and did not disappoint. Aaron Gordon added 16 points and Michael Porter Jr. scored 14 for Denver, which trailed for 34 seconds and eventually led to 24.
Bam Adebayo finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds for Miami, which shot 41% for the game — 33% from 3-point range. Gabe Vincent scored 19 goals, Haywood Highsmith scored 18 and Jimmy Butler added 13 for the Heat.
Game 2 takes place in Denver on Sunday night.
Watch live post-match coverage below:
Miami opened the fourth quarter on an 11-0 streak, closing an 84-63 deficit to start the final period at 84-74. The Heat actually came within nine on a 3-pointer from Highsmith with 2:34 to go, but no closer and there was no doubt either.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone gave his team a pop quiz Thursday morning, overwhelming them with questions about the game plan and what to do in the most important game to date in history of the franchise.
They had all the answers then. Had them all at game time too. They were the team with minimal NBA Finals experience, with only two players having made the title round before, and yet they looked comfortable in front of the home crowd in Game 1.
Jokic became the second player in the last 25 years – LeBron James was the other, in 2017 – to have 10 assists at half time in a Finals game. He had 10 points and 10 assists at the break, and Denver led 59-42 after the first two quarters.
It wasn’t good for Miami. That wasn’t the case either: the Nuggets were in full control and Jokic only fired three shots.
And this part was worse: The Heat just couldn’t shoot. At all. Or at least not before Denver is too far ahead to be caught. Max Strus was 0 of 10 in three quarters, 0 of 9 on 3 points. Caleb Martin — who just missed out on the Eastern Conference Finals MVP — was 1 of 7.
Heat: Miami fell to 1-6 all-time in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The Heat lost the series opener in each of their title years – 2006, 2012 and 2013 – and the only win came in 2011, a series they ultimately lost to Dallas. … Adebayo’s 25 shots were a career high. He became the third player to score at least 24 points for Miami in Game 1 of a Finals. James did it three times for the Heat and Dwyane Wade did it in 2006.
Nuggets: Jokic became the eighth player to score a triple-double in Game 1 of a Finals. None of the others came with 27 points; Dave Cowens had a 25-point triple-double to open the 1976 Finals. …Bruce Brown, who played his college ball at Miami, scored 10. …Denver hit the foul line 20 times against Miami’s two .
Among those sold out: Grammy winner HER, NFL legend and former Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, current Denver quarterback Russell Wilson, Broncos coach Sean Payton and actor-comedian Ken Jeong.
Nikola Jokic broke a LeBron James record in the first half of Game 1 of the Finals
20:22, 01 June 2023
This story will be updated.
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