As expected, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray showed the way for the Denver Nuggets in their 109-94 demolition job of the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the 2023 NBA Finals. But as great as those two guys played in that contest, the performance of rookie Christian Braun also got the rookie a ton of attention and even praises from Jokic and Denver head coach Michael Malone 

“It speaks to Christian’s confidence,” Malone said of the former Kansas Jayhawks star in the postgame press conference (per Ryan Blackburn of Mile High Sports). “It speaks to him being a winner…he just has stayed ready throughout the year,…That kid never gets too high or too low. I could just feel the confidence oozing off of him.”

Braun, who scored zero points in Game 1 and just six points in Game 2, went off for 15 points as part of Denver’s bench. He was relentless on the floor, providing the kind of energy the Nuggets needed to keep the Heat at bay and prevent Miami from gaining considerable momentum. Braun repeatedly attacked Jimmy Butler’s defense and got rewarded for it with a gem of a game not many saw coming.

“Even when he makes a mistake, it’s an aggressive mistake, Jokic told reporters when asked about Braun’s explosion. So you can’t be mad at him about that.”

It’s going to be a tough ask for Braun to come up with the same production again in the coming games, but he must be feeling through the roof right now after such a performance.

In Game 3, Braun served as a reminder that sometimes, even the pawns can decide the winner of a chess match.