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Brown, Gordon and the soutiers on fire
In Game 3, the Nuggets were able to count on a historic performance from their star duo. This time, it was the second knives that took the light. 11 points in the last quarter for this Bruce Brown devil, on fire at the best time and author of 21 points overall on 8/11 shooting, with 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block and no loss of ball in 30 minutes. Look no further for the X-factor of the game for Denver, who won both games in Miami (95-108 Friday)...
Quickly in the rhythm and top scorer of the match, Aaron Gordon (27 pts, 11/15 including 3/5 to 3 pts) made a full game. 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting in the second quarter for Evan Fournier's former Orlando teammate. 11 points for Michael Porter Jr., 7 from "KCP". The lieutenants were strong, just to remind that Denver is above all a big collective, even if Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are regularly – and logically – put forward.
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Jokic sets the tone, Murray distributes the caviars
After a scare (sprained ankle at the beginning of the game) and before taking his fifth foul (4th QT, with 9:24 to play), Nikola Jokic had walked on Miami Friday, as he has done since the beginning of the series. Although, the two-time Serbian MVP often walks on his opponents, whether they are Floridians or not... 23 points and 12 rebounds to his credit, in 37 minutes. Jamal Murray made only 5 of his 17 shots, but he took a wicked pleasure in hitting the mark when his team needed it most. Above all, he distributed the caviars in spades: 12 assists, 0 losses of ball.
Love and Lowry, grandpa make resistance
It is in old jars that the best jam is made. The proof with Kevin Love, promoted to the five major in these Finals and who released a third quarter in vintage mode. At 34, the 2016 NBA champion held the Heat at arm's length when he returned from the locker room. He finished with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting and 4 rebounds in 18 minutes. Only one team has overcome a 1-3 deficit in the final so far. It was Cleveland in 2016, against the Warriors. Cleveland, with Love. The superstitious will appreciate. Two years his senior, Kyle Lowry also helped make artificial respiration work with 13 points and 7 "sits" in 33 minutes, while the "starter" Gabe Vincent picked.
Butler did (again) what he could
Admittedly, he seemed self-effacing for a long time, unable to sound the charge when his team needed it most. Jimmy Butler still finished with 25 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in this game, trying everything for everything in the last quarter. A little late, perhaps... 9/17 on shots for the former Bulls.
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Miami misses the boat
Jokic to five fouls, Murray out of skill and only five points behind with 8:42 to go, after a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter? A scenario that was to pave the way for a hold-up of the unsinkable Miami team. Failure. Erik Spoelstra's players did not take advantage of it. Certainly, the Nuggets made the shots they needed, like this triple by Murray just after Butler's three-point action to bring Miami back to -5. And what about this other major, work of Jeff Green, with 6'21 to play? Nevertheless, the Floridians gave the stick to be beaten. Two symbolic actions: a misfire by Bam Adebayo near the circle with 7:12 to play and a loss of ball by Butler with 5:14 on the clock, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope having taken the leather in his hands. Festival of missed opportunities. The Nuggets will have three title balls. The first, on the night of Monday to Tuesday (2:30). "That's our reality, we have to win three games in a row," Butler said.
Adebayo, figures in trompe-l'oeil
You'll think we're mad at him: Bam Adebayo was already in our flops after Game 3, despite a double-double XXL with 22 points and 17 rebounds. This time, the Kentucky college alumnus compiled 20 points and 11 rebounds, with 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 huge block. Yes, but here he is, he also finished with a suspicious address for an interior, at 8/18 shooting, after his nasty 7/21 of the third game. Above all, he found a way to lose 8 balls, as much as the entire Denver team! Not far from the triple double with the "turnovers"... At least Adebayo didn't forget to put on a show, with this superb dunk on a no less superb serve from Lowry, and a monstrous counter on Murray.
Vincent/Strus, the rear wheel drive still failing
We take the same ones, and we start again. Already in Game 3, the Gabe Vincent/Max Strus tandem again missed the point Friday night in Game 4. Embarrassed by fouls, the first named finished with 2 small points at 1/6, with more ball losses (2) than assists (1). The bubble for the second, 0 points to 0/4 shooting. Miami can't afford to have so little input from its starting lineback, even when Lowry is in a good night and Duncan Robinson (12 pts, 5/7), aggressive at will, reminds us that he is not just a three-point shooter.