Nuggets look to restore order in Finals

(News4usonline) – The Denver Nuggets shut down any hopes for the Miami Heat to gain the upper hand in their NBA Finals series. Riding the wave of triple-double performances by both Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, Denver pounded the boards and beat up the Heat with a convincing 109-94 win in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Miami’s home turf.

For reserve forward Jeff Green, it’s just one win in the team’s goal to win four.

“I mean, we won,” Green said after the game during a postgame press conference. “That’s what we wanted to do. I think we came out with a better focus, better attention to start our defense off with communication, which we didn’t do well with Game 2. I don’t like the way we finished, obviously. We’ve got to find a way to finish that fourth quarter and not give them any hope.”

With the win, Denver leads the best-of-seven series, 2-1. The Nuggets had surrendered home-court advantage to the Heat when they dropped Game 2. However, with Jockic going for 32 points, 21 rebounds, and 10 assists and Murray adding in 34 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, the Nuggets have reclaimed the edge against their Eastern Conference rivals.

“It’s a great duo,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Their games really complement each other. You have one guy that really can score in a lot of different ways. Another guy who is setting great screens or handoffs, and if the ball gets back to him, he can get a bunch of people involved. Certainly, at the beginning of the game, that kind of set the tone.”

Denver head coach Mike Malone talked about how the Game 3 performances by Jockic and Murray helped his team bounce back from that forgettable Game 2 defeat. Malone referenced Murray’s will to make sure the Nuggets came up victorious.

“That’s what champions do,” said Malone. “That’s what warriors do. They battled back. I felt his presence all day long. Forget the stats for a second. I felt Jamal’s presence, his energy, and he was here in the moment, and for him and Nikola to do what they did tonight in a game that we needed to take, regain home-court advantage of the series was special to watch.”

There are two stats that glaringly stand out in Game 3. Denver simply hammered Miami on the boards, securing a 58-33 advantage. The Nuggets picked up 45 defensive rebounds. The Heat could only snag 23. Advantage: Nuggets. The other category where Denver dominated is shooting from the field. The Nuggets, as a team, shot 51 percent from the field.

The bottom line for the Heat is this: If they fail to keep Jokic and his teammates off the boards, this series will end quickly. If the rebounding disparity continues, Miami has no hope of winning the series. The length and size of the Nuggets were clearly telling in Game 3. Jokic, of course, leads the way for the Nuggets. Murray, who is Jokic’s sidekick, is no slouch.

After Game 3, Murray described how he and Jokic are able to mesh their respective games.

“The best word is free flowing,” Murray said. “If something is not there, we don’t go to it. If it’s there, we go to it. If we plan on doing something and they do something different, we adjust on the fly. We call a lot of audibles. Each possession we’re talking about what they just did, how we can counter it. There’s so many different counters that we can do. We don’t fight it. I think that’s the biggest thing. Whatever we’re doing, whatever the defense is doing.”

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