A health walk for Denver? That's what many observers were predicting for these NBA Finals. That will not happen. With 23 points from an incandescent Gabe Vincent and 21 units for Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, Miami won on the boards of the Ball Arena (108-111), on the night of Sunday to Monday, in the second set. Big basketball game. After the Nuggets won 103-94 in Game 1, the two clubs are tied (1-1).
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Mike Malone's men seemed to have taken the lead in the first half, when they led by 15 points, and again when they returned from the locker room, Nikola Jokic scoring 18 of his 41 points (!) in the third quarter. 11 rebounds and 4 assists as a bonus for the Serb, with... 5 ball losses. But these Floridians are decidedly unsinkable. 14 points from Max Strus, 10 from Duncan Robinson and 10 rebounds for... Kevin Love, surprise starter. On the Denver side, 18 points and 10 assists to the credit of Jamal Murray, who had the shot to snatch the overtime at the very end of the game, a good shot. Everything is to be redone for the Denver Nuggets before playing the next two games in Florida.
Miami starts strong, Denver responds-for-tat
Remember the start of Game 1? Quite the opposite at the start of Game 2. Aphone last Thursday (0/10 shooting), Strus cracked 12 points in the first quarter, to give Miami up to 11 points (10-21). An exclusive passer at the start of Game 1, Jokic held his own afloat with 11 units in those first 12 minutes. In its wake, Denver found its game. Only three points apart at the end of the first quarter (23-26) and soon the first advantage for the Nuggets (27-26). Impenetrable on defense in the racket, they chained four three-point bombs (39-29). Speaking of bombs, Murray chipped the ball into Lowry's hands before slamming a huge dunk (video below, 42-32). The Ball Arena in delirium. There was something. Malone's men increased their lead to +15 (50-35). Despite the clumsiness of Butler and Adebayo, Vincent and company let the storm pass and stayed alive (52-47, then 57-51 MT).
Halftime had not made Vincent lose his rhythm, always hotter (64-62). Miami was quick to rally (64-64, then 66-66) in a third quarter less rhythmic, more choppy, but in which both teams surrendered blow for blow. Big fight. Guided by a brilliant Jokic, the Nuggets never lost the reins. Fouls caused, stolen balls, rebounds and baskets in spades: in the oven and at the mill, the double MVP walked on Miami (and Zeller) in this end of the third quarter (83-75). Not enough to kill the game. Especially since Robinson, on fire, scored 10 of his team's first 13 points in the fourth quarter, Vincent going for his small triple in the process (85-88). The latter scratched two more points on the line, while nervousness won Denver (85-90).
Butler misses the estocade and Murray misses the equaliser
Nervousness, and soon fear. That of emptiness. Because despite the exit of Vincent with four fouls, Butler came out of his box (91-98) before three shots of Kyle Lowry (9 pts), which sent Adebayo to the dunk (93-104). Five minutes to play. The Nuggets in artificial respiration! And even more so after this award-winning basket by Caleb Martin, the only one of the game (95-107). Aaron Gordon (14 pts) stopped the bleeding, Bruce Brown (11 pts) followed and Murray, who had been discreet for long minutes, returned two huge shots to revive the suspense, in a crazy end of the game (106-109, then 108-111). Butler missed the estocade with 14''1 on the clock, no timeout or foul from Miami and Murray, the hot hand, had plenty of time to rise to tie at three points at the buzzer... In vain (108-111 final score).
The two teams will meet again on the night of Wednesday to Thursday (2:30), at the Kaseya Center, for Game 3. The fourth round will take place two days later (2:30), still in Florida. One thing is certain: we will at least be entitled to a fifth meeting, on the night of June 12 to 13 (2:30), on the side of Denver.
NBA Finals 2023 schedule and results:Game 1: Denver-Miami 104-93 Game 2: Denver-Miami 108-111 (both teams tied, 1-1)Game 3: Miami-Denver, on the night of June 7 to 8 (2:30)Game 4: Miami-Denver, on the night of June 9 to 10 (2:30)Game 5: Denver-Miami, on the night of June 12 to 13
Game 6: Miami-Denver, on the night of June 15 to 16 (2:30)Game 7: Denver-Miami, on the night of June 18 to 19 (2h)