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Denver Drops First Home Game of Playoffs to Miami

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Bam Adebayo | Photo Credit: www.twitter.com/MiamiHEAT

Undrafted, that is the term NBA Analysts have used when referring to the Miami Heat’s key role players. They find it disrespectful and one of the “undrafted”, Gabe Vincent, had this to share following Game 2 of the NBA Finals, “I speak for my whole team when I say we don’t give a damn. We just want to get four wins.”

The Heat tied the NBA Finals series at one game apiece and they moved closer to their ultimate goal, a championship. It didn’t come easy in Game 2 though, they had to rally in the fourth quarter and contain as much as they could from the 41-point performance Nikola Jokic left on the court for Denver. Gabe Vincent scored 23 points, while Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler had 21 each and the Miami Heat defeated the Denver Nuggets, 111-108, in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night.

The Heat’s Game 2 victory over the Nuggets marked the first and only time a team defeated the Nuggets on their home court in the 2023 playoffs, the last instance was March 30th, which was more than two months. We can continue to beat the dead horse that is the notion of “Miami is an eighth-seed”, it doesn’t matter, and they don’t care, they have continued to defy all odds.

“Our guys are competitors, they love these kind of moments,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Miami trailed by as many as 15 points in the second quarter, they faced an eight-point deficit to open the fourth quarter, the odds were stacked against them statistically. Denver was 11-0 in this year’s playoffs when leading by 10 or more points in a game, in addition to holding a 37-1 record when leading by at least eight-points when entering the fourth quarter.

Miami stayed true to form, they didn’t care, and they would get the job done despite what any statistic or percentage may indicate. The Heat outscored the Nuggets 17-5 in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter and held the lead for the rest of the game. Miami was up by as much as 12 in the fourth, then Denver came charging back late in the final minutes and Miami held on despite Jamal Murray’s desperation heave from three-point range with time expiring.

“This is the finals, we gutted one out,” said Bam Adebayo.

Max Strus would bounce back from his nightmare Game 1 performance, where he shot 0-for-10. Strus converted four three-pointers in the first quarter of Game 2, he would also finish with 14 points, then came the Duncan Robinson show in the fourth; Robinson scored all 10 of his points in the final period. You could certainly say “Miami runs on Duncan”, after he was the one who ignited the fourth quarter comeback for the Heat.

It was a game of runs for both teams overall, the Heat raced out to an 11-point lead in the first quarter, then they were down by as many as 15 in the second. They would own the fourth quarter by outscoring Denver 36-25, but they couldn’t stop Nikola Jokic, he shot 16-for-28 from the floor, his last shot was a post move with 36 seconds remaining in regulation to pull the Nuggets within three points behind the Heat.

On the very next Heat possession, Denver decided not to foul, and it worked in their favor. Jimmy Butler would miss a three-pointer, and with a chance to send the game into overtime, Jamal Murray missed a three-pointer at the buzzer on the other end for Denver.

“I just contested it, [I’m] Pretty glad that he missed it,” said Jimmy Butler; meanwhile Denver’s Jamal Murray went on to say, “They just played hard, and like I said, it was more discipline. It’s defeating when you’re giving up mistake after mistake, and it’s not them beating you, you’re giving them open dunks or open shots. That’s tough to come back from.”

Miami’s defense did a much better job of containing Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon in comparison to Game 1. Murray had 18 points and 10 assists for, while Aaron Gordon added 12 points and former Miami Hurricane, Bruce Brown, would score 11. Nuggets coach Michael Malone was none too pleased with his team’s overall effort in Game 2.

“Let’s talk about effort, I mean, this is the NBA Finals and we’re talking about effort. That’s a huge concern of mine,” Malone said. “You guys probably thought I was just making up some storyline after Game 1 when I said we didn’t play well. We didn’t play well. This is not the preseason. This is not the regular season. This is the NBA Finals.”

Miami’s Game 2 victory over Denver marked the 44th occurrence this season, where the Heat won a game by five points or less. It certainly could not have come at a better time, in the NBA Finals.

“When it comes down to the wire, we’re strangely comfortable,” Gabe Vincent said.

Game 3 is set to be played in Miami on Wednesday at 8:30 P.M. EST, the game will be broadcast on the ABC Network; meanwhile there is a possibility that Tyler Herro could return to action for Miami, it would be the first time since breaking his hand in the first round of the playoffs against Milwaukee.

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