NBA Finals: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets Bounce Back Just By Being Themselves

For the second time in three games, the Nuggets looked unstoppable.Nikola Jokic puts a move on Kevin Love

During the regular season, that’s no big deal. But these weren’t just any two wins in three games. These were Finals games. And now, Denver is two wins away from the first championship in franchise history.

It all came courtesy of a 109-94 road win over the Heat in Game 3 on Wednesday. That quickly returned home-court advantage to the Nuggets, who lead by a 2-1 count.

This what the Nuggets have been doing all season — passing, cutting, hitting outside shots, defending just enough to keep opponents at bay when the offense is clicking.

Oh, and it never hurts when Nikola Jokic gets a triple-double. And no one in Finals history has had a triple-double like the one Jokic had on Wednesday: 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists.

But hey, teammate Jamal Murray came close. That’s right, Murray finished with a triple-double, too. His line looked like this — 34 points, 10 boards and 10 assists.

Coach Michael Malone in seemed in awe of both. Let’s start with Jokic.

“This guy has shown time and time again that he’s built for these moments,” coach Michael Malone told reporters of his do-it-all center. “He thrives in these moments.”

Now for Murray.

“Forget the stats. I felt Jamal Murray’s presence,” Malone said. “His energy. He was here in the moment.”

The victory follows what was the Nuggets’ lone home loss of these playoffs, and perhaps their worst overall showing in these playoffs. Game 2 was unlike them. Bouncing back in Game 3 was not.

“That’s one thing I know about our group,” Malone said. “When we don’t play well, we own it. We find a way to be resilient and get back to playing Denver Nugget basketball.”

Rookie Christian Braun may have put together his best game as a pro, or certainly the best at such a meaningful time of year — coming off the bench for 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting. One was a slam off a steal. All that in 19 minutes.

Jimmy Butler scored 28 points to lead the Heat, and Bam Adebayo added 22 points ands 17 rebounds. But Miami never led in the second half.

Still, the Heat shouldn’t give up hope. The No. 8 seed has gotten this far by being its best when all seems just about lost. That’s where the Heat are today with Game 4 back at home.

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