Denver Nuggets (3-1) vs. Miami Heat (1-3) - 8:30pm ET - ABC
The Miami Heat keep getting counted out, but whether their chances have been dismissed for a series or within a particular game, they have made a habit of roaring back to life. They’re the Undertaker meme in NBA team form. At the risk of looking silly for discounting Heat Culture yet again, though, I think Miami has more than met its match in these Denver Nuggets, who are one game away from the franchise’s first championship.
In winning Games 3 and 4 in Miami, the Nuggets proved both the star power and the depth of their roster. Denver’s Game 3 victory was led by the stars, with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray becoming the first teammates to both record triple-doubles in an NBA Finals game. Game 4 was a different story, however. Jokic struggled with foul trouble and Murray with his shot, finishing just 5-of-17 from the field. Instead, Denver was carried by its supporting cast, with Aaron Gordon leading all scorers with 27 points and Bruce Brown scoring 21 points off the bench on 8-of-11 shooting. Check out the uniqueness of Brown’s fourth quarter in Game 4.
Bruce Brown is the 8th player in the PBP era to come off the bench and score double digits in the 4th quarter of an NBA Finals win. pic.twitter.com/39bAk1cCVS— Todd Whitehead (@CrumpledJumper) June 10, 2023
I’m not sure what rabbits Erik Spoelstra might still have to pull out of his hat. The size disadvantage has really hurt the Heat in this series. Their lone win thus far came from a tremendous three-point shooting performance, which hasn’t seemed sustainable in these Finals. Aside from the first quarter of Game 2 when he made four three-pointers, Max Strus is just 1-of-22 from behind the arc in this series. Starting backcount mate Gabe Vincent has gone cold as well of late after a hot start to the Finals, shooting 1-of-10 from three across the last two games. We might see a bit more Duncan Robinson tonight, who has shot 44.4 percent from three in this series, while flashing some off-the-dribble game and possessing a bit more length than some of the Heat’s other wing options. Maybe Tyler Herro is the hero Miami needed all along?
Ultimately, Miami needs so many things to go right. The Heat need their stars to match that of the Nuggets, a tall task in itself. They also need the supporting cast to outproduce Denver’s. Plus, they’ll have to do it in the mile-high altitude. Deepest tip of the cap to the resiliency the Heat have shown this postseason, but I think we’ll see the Nuggets lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy tonight. Follow along to find out if that is indeed the case here in our Game 5 open thread.