NBA Finals: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets Do Their Thing, Roll by Heat in Game 1

For the Nuggets, it was more of the same. More passing, more cutting, more shot-making. More Nikola JokicNikola Jokic shoots over Bam Adebayo

This is how it’s gone for the entire playoffs, and Game 1 of the NBA Finals in Denver was no exception. Final score: Nuggets 104, Heat 93 in a game that wasn’t even that close.

Instead, the majority of the night resembled a basketball clinic on how to play the right way, the wise way.

And of course, Jokic put together yet another triple-double in the process — finishing with 27 points, a whopping 14 assists and 10 rebounds.

This is just the Nuggets’ way, and it’s been their way since about, oh, late November. And yet everyone said the Lakers had figured them out after Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. Nobody said much after Denver swept LA, of course.

Nobody is saying much now. Except maybe, “Dang, these guys are good.”

And yes, it’s more than just Jokic. Aaron Gordon scored 12 points in the first quarter, finishing with 16. Perhaps more impressively, he held Heat star Jimmy Butler in check (13 points).

“Thought he did a helluva job” on Butler, Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters of Gordon.

Then there was Jamal Murray. All the Nuggets standout guard did was score 26 points on 11-of-22 shooting and pass for 10 assists. Yes, Jokic had 14 assists and Murray had 10. In case you were looking for evidence that the Nuggets do in fact move the ball.

Look no further than the team’s two biggest stars.

Meanwhile, the Heat looked worn and weary from their seven-game series vs. the Celtics in the East finals.

Center Bam Adebayo had a nice night with 26 points and 13 boards, and forward Haywood Highsmith came off the bench to score 18 on 7-of-10 shooting. (Highsmith became the first player from Wheeling University to score in a Finals game in the process.)

But wing Caleb Martin, a hero in the East playoffs, went just 1-of-7 from the floor. And fellow wing Max Strus was even worse, making exactly zero of his 10 attempts.

“We’ve been through this before,” coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters, in reference to Martin and Strus. “They’re ignitable. … I love those looks that those guys get.”

The looks may be good, but so far in these playoffs, it’s the Nuggets who have been great.

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