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NBA Playoffs: The Pressure is Back on the Heat

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Miami Heat vs Denver Nuggets

As it turns out, the Heat haven’t fully figured out the Nuggets after losing Game 3 on Wednesday, and now they find themselves down 2-1 in the 2023 NBA Finals.

This result means that the Nuggets get their home court advantage back, so the Heat must respond in Game 4 to avoid going down to a 3-1 hole.

Nikola Jokic continues to dominate in this series, although he had a lot of help from the likes of Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon, and Christian Braun.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, who had 50 points combined, were the only Heat players who came to play in Game 3, as the supporting cast could not get much going on the offencive end.

Read on below for the SBOTOP preview of Game 4 on Friday.


Talking Points

Do the Heat bring back their Herro?

The Heat have been a make-or-miss team pretty much this postseason. So far, they’ve been making more, which is why they’re here in the finals.

However, they haven’t faced a team like the Nuggets, who are the best team in the Western Conference for a reason. In order to beat them, the Heat must be able to match their firepower.

Erik Spoelstra’s coaching can only go so far, so he needs a full squad to make it work. Tyler Herro has been out since Game 1 against the Bucks in the first round, and the Heat need him back at full strength, especially with the likes of Max Strus, Duncan Robinson, and Gabe Vincent disappearing from time to time.

Herro has been working to recover from a broken right hand. He was upgraded to a questionable tag, but he was eventually ruled out of Game 3, according to the NBA 2023 news.

This season, Herro averaged 20.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in 67 regular season games. He led the NBA and set a Heat record by shooting 93.4-per cent from the free-throw line.


Nuggets are too big, too strong

The Denver Nuggets will be aiming for another win in Game 4 of the NBA Finals
Miami Heat forward Caleb Martin attempts to dribble the ball against Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic

Just like in Game 1, the Nuggets flexed their muscles against the Heat in Game 3 by using their size advantage, which was evident in the team stats.

In the 109-94 victory, Denver shot 51.2-per cent from the field, made 27 free throw attempts, recorded 58 rebounds, and scored 60 points in the paint. In those categories, Miami shot 37-per cent, had 19 free throw attempts, and only recorded 33 rebounds and 34 points in the paint.

Nikola Jokic had 32 points, 21 rebounds, 10 assists, and two blocks, while Jamal Murray had 34 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Aaron Gordon notched 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Christian Braun was a spark off the bench with 15.

The only downside for the Nuggets is Michael Porter Jr’s inefficiency, which is the reason why he has seen his minutes dwindle. MPJ must find other ways to make an impact in this series, and he can do it on the defencive end since he’s tall and athletic.


History

Game 3 was the Heat’s first finals home game since 2014 because their 2020 finals run was in the Disney Bubble. In that season, they were planning for a three-peat, but they were derailed by the Spurs.

Udonis Haslem became the oldest player to appear in the NBA Finals after playing 30 seconds in Game 3, breaking the mark of 42 years and 58 days set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1989. The 20-year veteran will turn 43 on Friday.

Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray made history on Wednesday by becoming the first duo in NBA Finals history to record triple-doubles in the same game, and now they are two victories away from bringing home the Nuggets’ first title in franchise history.

The Heat cannot afford to go down 3-1, as only one team was able to come back from such a deficit in the Finals: the 2016 Cavaliers, who defeated the 73-9 Warriors.


What are the odds?

After Game 3, the gap between the Nuggets and the Heat in the money line has grown, as the NBA 2023 odds now have Denver winning it all at 1.66 compared to Miami at 2.25.

In the Asian Handicap market for Game 4, you can bet on the Nuggets for -4.50 at 2.16, and another relatively low-scoring game is in the cards, with Under 212.00 at 1.77 on offer. With the way he’s been playing throughout this postseason, it feels inevitable that Nikola Jokic will win Finals MVP. The Joker is the huge favourite to win it since he’s priced at 1.10.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.


 

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