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Denver Nuggets outlast Heat in Game 3


If you're a basketball enthusiast, you probably already know: winning games is a daunting task when you're down by 25 points as a team. It's something the Miami Heat realized the hard way during the 2020 NBA Finals, but apparently forgot last night.

Nuggets maintain control

On Wednesday the Nuggets put on a display of their ability to never back down, and it resulted in them claiming home-court advantage along with a 2-1 lead in the Finals when they took Game 3 109-94. The Nuggets were able to mount some comebacks, which helped reinforce the crucial lesson they needed.

Denver dominated Miami on the boards, outrebounding them by a margin of 12. Miami struggled to get second-chance opportunities, particularly in the early stages of the game.

With his stature and skills, Nikola Jokic spearheaded the team's resurgence. His dominant performance during Game 3 was nothing short of remarkable: he secured 21 rebounds and blocked three shots, all while in the paint, strategically trapping Miami's missed attempts.

Denver gained an advantage in this game and series through more than one comeback. The Nuggets size advantage has been evident on both the offensive and defensive end with three starters and Bam Adebayo's position is somewhat flexible.

While it may seem easy for Jokic, he was able to score 32 points in addition to 10 assists for the first 30-20-10 double-double in Finals history. This is thanks to his impressive hook shot that, while nasty and jerky, managed to skip shots and jump shots against any hot player. Interestingly, Jokic continued to make use of this hook, proving victorious against Kyle Lowry and Gabe Vincent, with whom Miami replaced him on numerous occasions.

Heat to test new strategy

To avoid a repeat of Wednesday's performance, the Heat should consider not allowing Jamal Murray, who is 6-foot-7 and had a triple-double of 30 points, to grab 10 rebounds. They should also prevent Christian Braun from attacking the region by implementing a defense that doesn't rely solely on scoring players like those found in college basketball. Otherwise, they run the risk of allowing him to score 15 points on 7 of 8 shooting again.

Denver's winning strategy against Miami depends on two tactics: shooting the ball and finding deadly shooters or passing to Jokic at the free throw line, where he can drive and score points. In contrast, Miami relies on a regional system that sometimes leads to success, but also puts them at a disadvantage when defending against Denver's offense.

Jokic deftly maneuvers into uncomfortable spaces that destabilize the Heat's defense causing it to falter repeatedly. Despite this, Miami struggles to perform well on their side of the court, and many expect the series to go long.

Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, despite scoring 22 and 28 points respectively, struggled to maintain control of the ball in the paint, resulting in missed opportunities. Their combined field goal shooting percentage was 18 of 45.

Although Adebayo secured 17 rebounds, Miami's success depends on capitalizing on its possession opportunities. The team faces challenges with tall defenders obstructing their access to the rim and Butler's ankle injury hampering his jumping ability. As a result, they settle for outside shots to circumvent these problems.

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