The NBA Finals tipped off last night in Denver. Many people expected Denver to have a big advantage, with all that time off to rest, while the Heat and Celtics threw haymakers at each other for 7 games. That’s how the game played out. While the final score was 104-93, indicating a relatively close game, the pace and flow of the game was all on Denver’s side. They thoroughly dominated the 2nd half, to the point where the 4th quarter was little more than window dressing. The Nuggets were up by 21 going into the 4th quarter! Jokic was his typical dominant self, securing yet another triple double. Jamal Murray added 26 points and 10 assists as well, and Miami never really challenged the Nuggets in this game.
While this was to be expected, it has to be concerning for Miami. Jimmy Butler will surely be better in Game 2, as he only had 13 points in Game 1. However, without having an answer for Nikola Jokic, the rest of the series seems like little more than a formality. The Heat can positively point out that they held Denver to their lowest point total of the entire postseason. However, it’s hard to imagine that lasts much longer. Denver has been dominant offensively in the playoffs. We know the Heat play very tough and physical defense, but that can only go so far. Caleb Martin and Max Strus combined to go 1-17 from the floor. Clearly, they can’t be much worse than that, but they’ll need to be significantly better for the Heat to have any chance in this series.
At the end of the day, this series is far from over. Both teams will obviously now be on equal rest from here on out. That benefits the lesser talented team, which is the Heat. The Heat clearly need to bring their offense to Game 2, but they’ve shown remarkable resilience throughout the playoff this year. This series is far from over.