Denver’s wait is finally over. After 47 years of existence in the NBA, the Nuggets have their hands on the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Nikola Jokic scored game highs – 28 points and 16 rebounds – and led his side to a 94-89 win in the fith game against Miami Heat.
For his scintillating form in this year’s finals and the playoffs, Jokic was fittingly awarded the Bill Russell Finals Most Valuable Player award.
But how the Nuggets emerged victorious in the scrappy, sparring-like series-deciding game still remains a puzzle. Nerves clearly seemed to get the better of the Nuggets as they set off to close out the series at home.
The Nuggets offence was all over the place in the first half. Yet, to be brutally honest, Miami let this game slip.
DENVER OFFENCE GOES A.W.O.L.
Ask the Nuggets about the first half and they might start sweating. There simply was no fluidity.
The team was shooting one off 15 from the three-point range. Pick any of its top contributors and they were in foul trouble. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray with two each. Aaron Gordon sat out the major part of the second quarter with three personal fouls.
And most were conceded with silly errors.
Jokic, their best player, had taken only three shots from the paint. None of the team’s players had a double-digit points tally in the first half.
They even messed up their free throw shooting, making just three of eight attempts.
Thankfully for them the bench rotation between Christian Braun, Bruce Brown and Jeff Green stitched 13 points between them and ensured damage limitation.
Murray and Jokic were much better in the second half which eventually allowed the side to pull through.
WHERE ARE THE BUCKETS FROM JIMMY BUCKETS?
Such have been the standards set by Jimmy Butler this year that an off night from the guard seems beyond reality. But is was Butler’s shooting at 27.8% that was at the root of Miami’s troubles.
Butler got to 21 points by the final buzzer but nine of those came of free throws. The remaining 12 points needed 21 shots from Butler.
Butler’s struggles were more pronounced in the first half. This was exactly the period when the Nuggets were committing howlers in offence.
Due to Miami’s primary scorer misfiring, the side failed to consolidate. Bam Adebayo pullled more than his weight and struck 18 points in the period which ensured the Heat led by seven points.
Any other day, a slightly better one for Butler, and Miami would have put this game to bed in the opening quarter.
Butler was again involved in a play that decided the fate of the game. With around 30 seconds remaining, Butler was one-on-one against Jamal Murray. On countless occasions in this series, Butler has pulled short and backed his jump shot to fire. On this instance, he decided otherwise.
Butler took the ball too deep which allowed Jokic to sweep in and make it a two-on-one situation. Murray tried to divert the attack to the perimeter but his pass was stolen by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
MICHAEL PORTER JR DELIVERS
Over the five games, there have been complaints about Michael Porter Jr’s perimeter shooting. In the modern game, your shooting guard has to contribute from the distance.
Well he again shot 17% from the three-point range in the fifth game. How he compensated, however, was with his swashbuckling dominance in the paint.
12 of Porter’s 16 points came from the paint. Aaron Gordon had devastated the Heat from the rim in this series. Perhaps, they were still so busy working their defence on Gordon that Porter caught them by surprise.
In addition to his 16 points, Porter also provided 12 rebounds, 11 of which were on the defensive end. Oh yeah, and he made a three-pointer too.
An ode perhaps to coach Malone who held his faith in the player and stuck with him in the starting lineup.
#NBA #Finals #takeaways #Denvers #title #clinching #win