Game 1 Similar To Game 3
The Denver Nuggets have found a path to victory while favored in most NBA title odds. When you have players like Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray that can take over, that is a lot to deal with, especially if they both have it going in one game.
In Game 2, the Miami Heat were able to lessen Murray’s effect, which led to their win. It was the first time a team beat the Nuggets in Denver, which started to shift the NBA odds a little in the Heat’s direction. However, Game 3 has turned NBA picks back in favor of the Nuggets, whose star players played like they were looking for revenge in the first game in Miami.
Jokić and Murray Take Over Game 3
There are few games that Jokić takes off, especially in the playoffs, where he has dominated. He had a triple-double in Game 1, then scored 41 points in Game 2. In Game 3, Jokić put up a great stat line of 32 points, 21 rebounds, and 10 assists, completely dominating.
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are the first teammates in NBA history (regular season, postseason, or Finals) to BOTH record 30+ point triple-doubles in the same game!
Jokic: 32 PTS, 21 REB, 10 AST
Murray: 34 PTS, 10 REB, 10 AST pic.twitter.com/13OvfXaQw9
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) June 8, 2023
The other half of this duo, Murray, would have his own great game, headlining NBA news by getting a triple-double, 34 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. When both players are hot, scoring and playmaking, they might be one of the toughest duos to stop in the NBA.
In fact, for Game 1, that was a big reason why the Nuggets were able to open the series with a win. Jokić had 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 assists, while Murray had a double-double, with 26 points and 10 assists.
That forced the Heat to play completely differently in Game 2, moving Kevin Love to the starting lineup to add some size and then putting Jimmy Butler on Murray. It worked for the most part, with Jokić taking over scoring-wise, but he only had four assists. With a larger defender on Murray, he would have 18 points on 15 shots but did add 10 assists.
If these two are going to keep playing as they did in Games 1 and 3, it’s hard to believe that NBA betting won’t keep backing the Nuggets. Outside of a few shining moments, the rest of the roster around the Nuggets has not played great. On the other hand, that has been good enough to win two games by double digits and lose one by three points. That would be a scary thought if you backed Miami in The Finals.
Supporting Cast Inconsistency
Simply put, the supporting cast around the stars for Denever has not met expectations. Only two players outside Jokić and Murray scored 15 or more points in the first three games. Aaron Gordon scored 16 points in Game 1, playing bully-ball in the first quarter, scoring 12. Then rookie Christian Braun had an impressive Game 3, scoring 15 points by being aggressive and cutting into open spaces behind the Heat’s zone.
The main two players that are supposed to lead the supporting cast are Michael Porter Jr. and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. However, they are shooting the ball terribly and had a horrible defensive performance in Game 2, which was a big reason for the Nuggets’ loss. Porter is shooting 25.8% from the field and 15.8% from three, while Caldwell-Pope isn’t much better at 31.3% and 22.2%.
Their shot will eventually come because Jokić and Murray keep getting them open looks. That makes Jokić and Murray’s combined assist numbers so surprising, at 58, because, for the most part, they are feeding off each other.
Can Denver Ride This Plan To Its First NBA Championship
NBA predictions went with the Nuggets before the series began because Jokić and Murray have been playing at an elite level through the playoffs, which seems to have continued into The Finals. Now the question is, can they do it two more times to win the Nuggets’ their first NBA championship?
It seems realistic, with Jokić playing like the best player on the court every game, while Murray has only had one semi-off night. The lack of help from the rest of the roster is surprising and a little concerning. However, if Porter or Caldwell-Pope can find their shot, this series could shift more in the Nuggets’ favor, and leave more room for the star players to have off nights.