The Denver Nuggets relied on Nikola Jokic and others to beat the Heat in Game 1, moving three games away from an NBA Championship.
The game was very boring for a huge part of it, as Denver went up big and stayed there until the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, Miami made it close but Jokic was able to close it out.
4 players the Nuggets can thank for winning Game 1 against the Heat
Aaron Gordon had a very amazing game. The Heat decided to let Gordon be the reason that they gave up points on the offensive end and the role player made them pay for it. He ended up with 16 points on 70 percent shooting from the floor.
Most of his contributions came up early in this game. Still, it is clear that the Heat do not really have anyone to guard Gordon. Bam Adebayo could help but all of his attention has to be focused on Nikola Jokic (obviously).
Max Strus and Caleb Martin
Max Strus and Caleb Martin were horrible on the offensive end of the floor for the Heat in this game. Strus ended up shooting ten shots and not making any of them.
A lot of those shots were threes that he has taken and made at a very reasonable clip in this playoff. The amount of coverage on those shots was around the same that he has made in the playoffs.
Caleb Martin was in the same boat as Strus. He attempted only two threes, making one of them. Still, a lot of what had worked for him in the last series against the Celtics was not working in this game. It may just be a off night but if both of these guys aren’t able to produce this series will be short.
It was really tempting to put Jamal Murray here. He would have been after three quarters. But Jokic gets the spot because of his ability to play in the fourth quarter of this game when the Heat started to make a bit of a run.
He ended up with eight points in the fourth quarter on 57 percent shooting. Overall, he had 27 points on 66 percent shooting from the floor. Additionally, he had 14 assists and 10 rebounds
With the way they won Game 1, it really seems like Denver will control this series. Miami just isn’t big enough on the defensive end for the Nuggets. Still, if Strus and Martin had shot better it feels like Miami would have had a chance to steal a game on the road.
There are a lot of other fixable or reasonable things that could change in Game 2 to allow Miami a way to win this series. Even though this is true, Denver is in the driver’s seat.