The Miami Heat once again proved to everyone that they should never be counted out. Miami survived Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets after overcoming a lofty 15-point deficit to even the series as they head to South Beach.
The Heat have done something that the Timberwolves, Suns, and Lakers were unable to do: beat the Nuggets on their home court. Surely, the No. 8 seed squad has been making basketball analysts scratch their heads with how impressive they’ve been in beating more athletic and talented teams.
Aside from the obvious hardworking persona that has taken them to the NBA Finals, much of the credit goes to Coach Erik Spoelstra, who has been extraordinary in calling the shots and making the right adjustments.
Jokic remains as the Nuggets’ main guy on the floor. He certainly delivered once again in Game 2, erupting for 41 points, 28 of which came in the second half. The surprising thing about this, though, is that he only had four assists.
Known for his smart and out-of-this-world passes (averaging 10.5 assists in the playoffs), the Heat’s defense was able to prevent Jokic from making plays which forced him to score more points as he took 28 shots. And during the rare moments where Jokic found an open guy, his teammates missed shots.
Michael Porter Jr. was cold and never found a rhythm, scoring just five points. His 3-point shots haven’t been falling in this series with 3-for-17 shooting. Despite ending with 18 points, Jamal Murray also struggled to help Jokic on the offensive end.
Jokic produced a lot of points because there weren’t any other Nuggets who were scoring. Miami Heat was successful in keeping the big guy from setting the pace of the offense and the whole match.
Coach Spo allowed the quick turnaround for the Heat by utilizing another big in their rotation, plugging in Kevin Love in the starting five. Love proved to be effective as he scored six points with 10 rebounds in 22 minutes and helped spread the floor as the Heat rallied. Moving him into the starting lineup allowed Coach Spo to put Jimmy Butler on Murray, the Nuggets’ second go-to guy.
Putting Butler on Murray made all the difference. Jokic will dominate whoever defends him, that is why it was smart to stop Denver’s second guy.
In a podcast, Stever Kerr said that adjustment was the recipe for the Heat’s Game 2 win.
“That allowed Jimmy Butler to guard Murray… I haven’t talked to Spo, but I can see them in their coaching meeting saying, ‘Murray is the head of the snake, not Jokic.’”
Aside from the huge adjustments, the Heat won Game 2 because they outworked, outsmarted, and outplayed their opponents.
“We faced a lot of adversity during the season. We handled it the right way where you are not making excuses about it, the injuries, the lineup changes. Because of all that adversity and the 57 close games that happened, due to a lot of that, it hardened us. It steeled us and we developed some grit, which is what we all want,” Coach Spo shared.
The Heat were just simply the smarter team in Game 2.