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Friday night in the 2023 NBA Playoffs saw the Denver Nuggets inch one game closer to their first NBA championship with a 108-95 win over the Miami Heat in Game 4. While the Nuggets have been held under 110 points in every game this series, it continues to be enough against a Miami offense that has fallen apart since the middle of the third round.
Aaron Gordon Shines in Game 4 for Denver
In Game 3, it was the 2-man show of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray making history by becoming the first teammates with 30-point triple-doubles in the same game. But in Game 4, the duo only combined for 38 points, 15 rebounds, and 16 assists.
That must mean good things for the supporting cast, but it was not a rebound game for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (7 points) or Michael Porter Jr. (no made 3s and only 3 rebounds). Instead, it was huge nights for Aaron Gordon (27 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists) and Bruce Brown (21 points and 3-of-5 from 3).
The Nuggets did not dominate in the paint this time, and Jokic actually had to sit out much of the fourth quarter due to picking up his fifth foul. But the Heat only cut 1 point into the deficit with Jokic out, and Gordon and Brown were outstanding for Denver.
Denver also finally found its 3-point shot in the series, finishing 14-for-28 on the night. Murray did not score much, but he still had 12 assists, the first player to ever have double-digit assists in each of his first four games in the NBA Finals.
Denver is the 19th team in NBA history to win 5 straight road playoff games in a single postseason. Prior to 2023, the Nuggets never won more than 2 straight road playoff games outside of the 2020 bubble season.
Miami’s Disappearing Act on Offense
The Heat join the 1983 Lakers and 1995 Spurs as the only teams to lose 4 straight home playoff games (2020 bubble excluded). Miami’s offensive struggles continued in Game 4 as the Heat failed to crack 100 points for the 5th time in their last 8 games.
We expected more turnovers from the Heat after a season-low 4 turnovers in Game 3, but they hurt themselves with 14 in this game. Worse, the 3-point shooting did not bounce back as the Heat finished 8-of-25 (32.0%). Gabe Vincent and Max Strus combined for 2 points on 1-for-10 shooting. Bam Adebayo was inefficient again with 20 points on 19 shots. Kevin Love had a spirited run early in the game to give the Heat a shot, but
Jimmy Butler had 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists, but he never looked in position to take over the game. His high point came on a 3 to beat the buzzer in the first quarter, giving Miami a 21-20 lead.
The Heat would not win another quarter as the Nuggets opened a lead as large as 17 in the second half. Denver led by 13 points to start the final quarter, and Miami could never get closer than 5 points the rest of the way.
The Nuggets can win the NBA championship at home Monday night.
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