The first half of Game 3 was a hard-fought duel between the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat. Nikola Jokic had gotten back to his playmaking best, finishing with 14 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists at halftime, while Jamal Murray had 20 points while shooting 8 of 13 over the first two quarters.

On the other side of the court, Jimmy Butler had 14 points while Bam Adebayo had 13 points and 10 rebounds. The teams were neck and neck, separated by a slim 53-48 margin. By all accounts, it looked like it was going to be another close game, especially as neither team led by more than five points in the first half.

However, the second half was a completely different story. The Nuggets pushed their lead to as high as 19 points in the third quarter thanks to a very aggressive Jokic, and he helped them take an 82-68 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The lead went as high as 21 points in the final period before Miami made a few runs, but in the end it was never enough.

The Heat, who fielded a lot of undersized lineups throughout the game, were abused on the inside by Jokic, who became the first NBA player to ever have at least 30 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in the Finals. He finished the game with 32 points, 21 rebounds, 10 assists and two blocks. 

However, his co-star in Murray was just as important. The Canadian point guard had a triple-double of his own with 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and a steal. His resurgence in Game 3, after a disappointing Game 2, was the key to taking homecourt advantage back. With Murray taking up as much as attention as Jokic, the Heat could not handle them in the second half. Jokic and Murray became the first pair to both have 30+ point triple-double in the NBA Finals, which adds yet another bullet point to their excellent season so far.

With their two stars leading the way, the Nuggets role-players stuck to playing hard on both ends of the floor. Aaron Gordon had a strong all-round contribution with 11 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and a steal. He was the man who gave Jimmy Butler trouble consistently on defense, and deserves the lion’s share of the credit for Butler shooting 5 of 16 in the first half.

Rookie Christian Braun had himself a fantastic game off the bench, acting as a spark plug in the second half and finishing with 15 points, four rebounds, an assists and a steal while shooting 7 of 8 from the field in just 19 minutes of action.

This win will be a sigh of relief for Nuggets fans, who were surely worried after they lost a close one in Game 2. Their team showed a strength of character to come back focused and ready to win in front of a hostile arena.

The Heat will have to figure out how to stop the Jokic and Murray combo in Game 2, but if they play like this again in Game 4, they might just get to celebrate winning the title in front of their own fans. As hard as the Heat play, they looked physically overmatched today. Their zone defense, which was very effecting in the previous contest, was undone by constant dribble penetration from their wings and a more measured approach from Jokic.