The Denver Nuggets flexed their size advantage to dominate the series opener, and that’s on top of having the deadly tandem of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. The Miami Heat better make their adjustments quick and very, very effective.

Catch the game tomorrow at 8:00 AM, Manila time.

HOME: Denver Nuggets (1-0)

Projected starting five:

  • Jamal Murray
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Michael Porter Jr.
  • Aaron Gordon
  • Nikola Jokic

Game 1 featured things that were pretty much expected. The Nuggets simply muscled their way into the Heat defense over and over and over again. Why stop when it’s working, right? It also helped that they controlled the paint, kept Miami mostly outside, and watched them brick one shot after another. The 104-93 final score didn’t do it justice as it felt like a 25-point blowout. 

Nikola Jokic led the charge through a triple-double of 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 assists, while Jamal Murray maintained his flow with more sweet-shooting from everywhere, posting 26 points and dishing out 10 dimes. Aaron Gordon, meanwhile, played third fiddle and tossed his weight around by tallying 14 of his 16 points (7/9 FGs) in the first half, vividly setting the tone of the game. We should see more of the same tomorrow, although AG is a freelancer and would shift roles basically every other contest.

What’s also scary about the Game 1 win the Nuggets shot poorly from downtown. They were a combined 8-of-27 (29.6%), and still went up by as much as 23, so we can only imagine if those shots were falling. Michael Porter Jr. was the lone Nugget to be off, going just 5-of-16 (2/11 from three). Let’s see if he can bounce back.

AWAY: Miami Heat (0-1)

Projected starting five:

  • Gabe Vincent
  • Max Strus
  • Jimmy Butler
  • Bam Adebayo
  • Kevin Love

The Heat always play with heart and teamwork, but that’s not enough against a team as well-rounded as the Nuggets, especially when you can’t make your shots and don’t attack the basket. In fact, they drove so seldom and drew so little contact that they only ended up with two free-throws, the lowest in NBA Finals history. Nevertheless, they went 9-of-26 from the floor in the first quarter and that put them in a ditch for the game.

Highlighting the ice-cold shooting are Caleb Martin and Max Strus, who finally went back to earth after a long stretch of solid performances. They collectively shot an unacceptable 1-of-17, with the latter going blank in all of his 10 attempts. The good news is it can’t get any worse than that… but who really knows?

Main star Jimmy Butler was quiet, going 6-of-14 for 13 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. Bam Adebayo tallied 26 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists, but it was basically for nothing as the Nuggets will give him two-pointers that all series long while they keep the rest in minimal form. Gabe Vincent had 19 points with five threes, though most of it was in the second half, when momentum was very much in Denver’s favour already.

Reports say Tyler Herro (hand) is listed as out for tomorrow, but that may change any minute as he has been practicing and seen taking participating in shootaround. 


Handicap: The Nuggets (-8.5) don’t cover the spread.

Over/Under: The total goes over 216.