Mendoza: Heat’s turn in Miami

Mendoza: Heat’s turn in Miami

The series is young. Expect more fireworks unfolding.

That seems logical after the Miami Heat took a close 111-108 win over the Denver Nuggets on Monday, June 5, 2023, to forge a 1-1 deadlock in their Best-of-7 series for the 2023 NBA Finals.

That materialized after Denver’s Jamal Murray missed a three at the buzzer that could have forced overtime.

Just seconds ago, Murray made a three to shove Denver to within 106-109.

After Miami’s Bam Adebayo, an 80-percent free-throw shooter, sank two charities for his 21 points at the 48.3-second mark, Nikola Jokic drove to cut the Heat lead to 111-108 with 33.8 seconds left.

Miami missed on its next offense — and that’s when Murray muffed his overtime-sending three.

It was a bitter loss for Denver, which led in all three quarters. Its 83-75 third quarter bulge was pitifully overrun by a 36-25 Miami burst in the final 12 minutes.

The much-improved Gabe Vincent had a team-high 23 points for Miami, orchestrating a 12-0 blast keyed by a three and two free throws at the height of the Heat’s fourth-quarter breakaway.

Adebayo had 21 points and nine rebounds, the same output delivered by Jimmy Butler, the main Miami man.

The Heat recovered its poise in Game 2 after a Game 1 defeat (104-93) marked by sluggishness following its brutal Game 7 win just two days back over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Its aggression was back in Game 2, making more threes, shooting 20 free throws which was 18 more than it did in Game 1.

Quite insanely, the Heat allowed Jokic practically all the elbow room to bury baskets. But quite stunningly, they disallowed the other Nuggets to score at will, eventually erasing a 15-point deficit for the series-tying win.

Sadly, Jokic’s 41 points went to waste, rendering his 18-point third quarter burst meaningless amid Miami’s meaningful mangling of Denver’s other lethal weapon: Jamal Murray, who was starved to just 18 points after firing 26 points and issuing 10 assists in Game 1.

Jokic’s measly four assists in Game 2 was a shame as the seven-foot Serbian monster is known for his triple-double (TD) feats. In fact, he holds the all-time triple-double of nine TDs in the postseason playoffs.

Games 3 and 4 are set in Miami beginning on Thursday, June 8, at 8:30 a.m. (PH time).

Will the Heat’s home court matter?


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