Heat Fight Back to Even NBA Finals with Game 2 Victory

Sunday night in the 2023 NBA Playoffs saw the Miami Heat rally back from a 15-point deficit to a 111-108 win in Denver to even the series at 1-1. It is the seventh time this postseason where Miami was down double digits and won the game.

An Uneven Three Quarters

Jimmy Butler
Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA – Photo by Icon sport

A far more interesting game than Game 1, the Heat started strong with a 21-10 lead in the first quarter before the Nuggets shot themselves back into it. Max Strus was 0-for-10 in Game 1, but he made 3 early 3s in this game.

With Nikola Jokic resting on the bench to start the second quarter, the Nuggets went on their own run and led 50-35 more than halfway through the quarter.

Denver led 57-51 at halftime. The third quarter had no real rhythm to it with plenty of ill-advised fouls by both teams. Jokic was the clear star with 18 points in the third quarter alone. But he would only finish the game with 4 assists as the Heat did a great job of shutting down the supporting cast this time while Jokic finished with 41 points.

After setting a playoff record with just 2 free throw attempts in Game 1, the Heat shot 18-of-20 from the line this time. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo each scored 21 points, and Gabe Vincent was the team leader with 23 points.

But the Heat still trailed 83-75 heading into the fourth quarter.

Miami Closes

Duncan Robinson would not have been a common choice to play hero, but he scored a quick 10 points to help the Heat take an 88-85 lead just 2:16 into the fourth quarter. Denver trailed the rest of the way as Miami’s shooting was lights out in the fourth: 11-of-16 (68.8%) from the field, 5-of-9 (55.6%) from 3, and 9-of-10 (90%) at the line. Miami scored 36 points in the fourth quarter.

Miami even led 107-95 at one point, making a 27-point turnaround. But Denver quickly put together a run built on 3s to make it 109-106 with just over a minute left. Jamal Murray’s 10th assist leading to the 41st point for Jokic made it 111-108 with 35.6 seconds left. The Heat were unable to put the game away after Butler missed a 3. The Nuggets chose not to call timeout, the Heat did not try to foul, and Murray got a decent look at a game-tying 3 to force overtime but he missed.

Denver was 9-0 at home this postseason, but the Heat found a way to break through and get a huge road win. The 3-point shot, something Denver does not do often, can be a great equalizer. Even though the Nuggets shot a higher FG% (52.0% vs. 48.7%), the Heat were17-of-35 from 3 compared to 11-of-28 for Denver.

For as great as Jokic was at scoring the basket, Denver was 7-13 in the regular season when he had 8 or fewer assists. The Heat will live with Jokic scoring as long as it means the rest of the Nuggets are not making enough shots.

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