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24 thoughts on Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals

24 thoughts on Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals

Nikola Jokic scores a triple-double in his playoff debut and Jamal Murray scores 26 points in the Nuggets’ Game 1 win.

The first NBA Finals game in Denver could not have been better for the Nuggets fans in attendance. Nikola Jokic’s triple-double, Jamal Murray’s 26 points, five Nuggets in double figures and a 104-93 victory over the Miami Heat to take a 1-0 series lead.

1 – Nikola Jokic was in full championship mode in Game 1, finishing with 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds in the game for his ninth triple-double of the season and tying his own record. He finished with 27 points and another 31 points with assists.

Joker triple double πŸ”’

27 PTS, 14 AST, 10 REB late fourth quarter at ABC. image.twitter.com/tXrd0tj5K4

β€” NBA (@NBA) June 2, 2023

JokiΔ‡ is in good company πŸ™Œ pic.twitter.com/SLvGGairZ5

β€” Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 2, 2023

2 – Jokic had just three field goal attempts in the first half, compared to 10 assists that led to 23 Denver points. He had only five shot attempts entering the fourth quarter, but completely dominated the game with his play.

Nikola Jokic joins LeBron James as the only players in the play-by-play era (since 1997) with 10 first-half assists in a Finals game.

β€” Zach Kram (@zachkram) June 2, 2023

Nikola Jokic is the only player in the last 25 seasons to have 10 assists in one half in his playoff debut πŸ‘

3Q of Game 1 next on ABC! photo.twitter.com/mcAtckEBUJ

β€” NBA (@NBA) June 2, 2023

3 – Jokic wasn’t the only Nuggets player to shine as Jamal Murray finished with 26 points and 10 dimes of his own. The Denver duo joined impressive company with 25+ points, 10+ assists in Game 1.

Jamal Murray has his 6th straight 25-point game, the longest streak of his career (regular season or playoffs).

The only Nuggets with longer playoff streaks are Alex English (12) and Carmelo Anthony (7). photo.twitter.com/5HPtKRvtEJ

β€” ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 2, 2023

4 – The two-man game between Jokic and Murray was almost unstoppable. Check out these two possessions early in the second half. First, Murray takes a handoff from Jokic, drives the baseline and pulls up for a jumper and one.

Murray SECOND and-1 πŸ”₯

Nuggets lead in the third quarter of Game 1 on ABC! photo.twitter.com/gi6IFXlJ4M

β€” NBA (@NBA) June 2, 2023

Then there was the replay, where Murray uses the Jokic screen, drives the lane and draws two defenders, fakes the jumper and passes it back out to Jokic for the open three-pointer to beat the shot clock.

Joker triple sinks to beat the shot clock β˜”οΈ pic.twitter.com/1BK9cAdMI4

β€” NBA TV (@NBATV) June 2, 2023

5 – We can’t forget Aaron Gordon, who was very aggressive in the first quarter, who took advantage of the mismatch with the Heat trying to cover him with smaller defenders, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin were all in place. being on the wrong end of Gordon’s layups and dunks at the basket.

AG starts STRONG πŸ’ͺ

He’s 8 points less than halfway through the first quarter on ABC!#NBAFfinals presented by @YouTubeTV pic.twitter.com/NBWy4ObjZo

β€” NBA (@NBA) June 2, 2023


Aaron Gordon feels it early πŸ’ͺ #NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/n8qZRBnMAa

β€” NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 2, 2023

Aaron Gordon vs Heat so far pic.twitter.com/gCmr64vpgr

β€” RingerNBA (@ringernba) June 2, 2023

6 – Bam Adebayo was the only Heat player to start offensively in the first half. He was Miami’s only player in double figures with 16 points on 8-of-13 shooting at the break. He finished with a team-high 26 points for his 2023 playoff scoring game.

With his 14th point, Bam Adebayo became the 5th player in Heat history to score 1,000 points in the playoffs.

He joins Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Jimmy Butler and Chris Bosh.

Adebayo joins Wade as the only players in Heat history with 1,000 points in a playoff game at age 25 or younger. photo.twitter.com/Y1GQJSjOMi

β€” ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 2, 2023

7 – Miami’s all-postseason shooters struggled mightily in Game 1. Max Strus was scoreless on 0-10 shooting, including nine 3-pointers. Caleb Martin shot just 1 of 7 and Duncan Robinson shot just 1 of 6. The three combined to shoot 2 of 23 from the field and 2 of 16 from deep. Gabe Vincent finished 5 of 10 from 3-point range as the Heat as a team finished 13 of 39 (33.3%).

That low, repetitive sound you hear in the background is Boston and Milwaukee fans rolling their eyes every time Strus and Martin miss another shot.

β€” John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) June 2, 2023

8 – Miami created some good looks, just missing a shot that we’ve seen them make throughout their playoff win streak. If there’s a positive to take away from the loss, it’s that Miami’s offense was getting the shots they wanted, and they can’t expect their shooters to struggle to this level again.

10 – Another Heat stat we probably won’t see again is their two total free throw attempts in Game 1 – setting the record for fewest ever in a playoff game. Going into the playoffs, the Heat averaged 16.9 free throws and 21 free throw attempts. They finished Game 1 by shooting 2 of 2 at the line, with both coming from Haywood Highsmith.

hot shot: the heat probably won’t win if Haywood Highsmith is the only player on the team who has taken a free throw

β€” Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) June 2, 2023

The Heat attempted 2 free throws, the fewest in a playoff game in NBA history @ESPNStatsInfo

β€” Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) June 2, 2023

11 – Everyone who was arguing about the rest vs. rust the question for the Nuggets after their nine-day rest between finishing the Lakers in the playoffs and the opening game of the NBA playoffs was definitively answered in the first half. Denver scored 59 points in the first quarter on 59.5% shooting through the first 24 minutes.

12 – With 10:24 left to play, we get a rare playoff ‘wedgie’ on a missed 3-pointer by Jamal Murray. All the wedgies require a shout out to the No Dunks crew, formerly known as The Starters on NBA TV.

OH MY GOD! #NBAFinals wedgie! 58 on the season! We’ve tied the all-time record! #WeAreWedgie

β€” JE Skeets (@jeskeets) June 2, 2023

13 – In his pregame address to his team, Nuggets coach Michael Malone touted Miami’s success in the first road game through the playoffs, ending his remarks with β€œNot tonight. Not at our house.”

“Not tonight. Not in our house.”

Mike Malone got his boys ready‼️ pic.twitter.com/lw7eVw4rMS

β€” NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 2, 2023

14 – The Nuggets handed the Heat their first loss in the first game of the postseason, going a perfect 4-0 in Game 1 itself. Of course, as the No. 1 seed in the West, the Nuggets have had home-court advantage for each of their Game 1 wins, while Miami was impressive with its ability to steal the series opener on the road. The Heat still have a chance to steal a game in Denver and send the series back to Miami tied 1-1.

15 – After trailing by as many as 24 points and entering the fourth quarter down by 21, the Heat showed their resolve by opening the quarter on an 8-0 run to cut Denver’s lead to 13 points. Just when it looked like the road was on Miami had an answer. Should we have expected anything less from this group?


Tune in to ABC for the fourth quarter of Game 1! #NBAFfinals presented by @YouTubeTV pic.twitter.com/2hzjLVoQoN

β€” NBA (@NBA) June 2, 2023

16 – Denver answered Miami’s 8-0 run with a 6-0 spurt of its own to push the lead back to 16. And the entire run involved Jokic, starting with a pass in traffic to a cutting Jeff Green in a layup, then a pair of free throws for Jokic and finally surrender after a nice pass from Michael Porter Jr.

Murray ➑ MPJ ➑ Jokic

Awesome Denver streak… they lead in the 4th quarter of Game 1 on ABC! photo.twitter.com/wpvCbTpt4m

β€” NBA (@NBA) June 2, 2023

17 – Miami utilized its zone defense in the first half while Jokic was on the bench. The Nuggets were able to get into the zone and create good looks to keep the offense going.

The Nuggets have 10 points on 6 possessions (with no Jokic) by less.

β€” John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) June 2, 2023


Nuggets lead in the second quarter, Game 1 of the #NBAFinals presented by @YouTubeTV LIVE on ABC! photo.twitter.com/tgmHosJzsl

β€” NBA (@NBA) June 2, 2023

In the second half, the Heat went into gear again, this time with Jokic on the court and that helped them cut into the lead. That eliminated the two-man play between Jokic and Murray that had been so lethal all night and forced the Nuggets to play late into the shot clock. Denver missed some good looks against the zone, but was more effective in the second half than the first.

18 – Adebayo finished with 26 points on 13-of-25 shooting, 13 rebounds and five assists in the loss. It was Bam’s fourth 20-10 game in the playoffs this year. While the Nuggets duo of Jokic and Murray both finished with 25+ points and 10+ assists, Adebayo’s partner Jimmy Butler finished with just 13 points (his playoff high) on 6-of-14 shooting, while adding seven boards and seven steals. assists.

Bam Adebayo has his 17th career Finals with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

The only player with more in Heat history is LeBron James (25). photo.twitter.com/9DzmPVJ1WK

β€” ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 2, 2023

Jokic’s 19 – 14 assists were not only the most by a player making his NBA Finals debut, they were the most by a center in any NBA Finals game.

Nikola Jokic’s 14 assists are the most by a midfielder in playoff history πŸ‘

Tune in to ABC for the final 1:38 of Game 1! photo.twitter.com/kzp4Rw0124

β€” NBA (@NBA) June 2, 2023

Joking right there in Game 1: #NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/GHjOjldxOY

β€” NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 2, 2023

20 – A bright spot for the Heat aside from Adebayo’s play was Haywood Highsmith’s play off the bench. He finished with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from 3-point range in 23 minutes. He may have earned more minutes for Game 2 on Sunday.

21 – The Nuggets had to wait 47 years since their NBA debut in 1976 to host their first NBA Finals. And they got to celebrate a victory that brings them three wins away from the title.

“The first final in the history of the franchise is a huge achievement.”

Denver wins Game 1 at home to take 1-0 lead in #NBAFinals presented by @YouTubeTV πŸ‘ pic.twitter.com/339cyrVlEu

β€” NBA (@NBA) June 2, 2023


Game: 27 PTS | 10 REB | 14 AST
Murray: 26 PTS | 6 REB | 10 AST
Gordon: 16 PTS | 7-10 FG | 6 REB
MPJ: 14 PTS & 12 REB pic.twitter.com/ypWz2vpG3P

β€” NBA TV (@NBATV) June 2, 2023

22 – Speaking of titles, the Larry O’Brien trophy was on hand at Ball Arena after making a grand entrance from the skies above Denver. Larry’s whirlwind tour made a stop in Denver, where he was greeted by ESPN’s Malika Andrews and delivered to the field in time for tip-off.

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s the Larry O’Brien Trophy parachuting to the Heat/Nuggets for Game 1 tonight at 8:30pm/et on ABC! photo.twitter.com/SVF8sZNCLH

β€” NBA (@NBA) June 1, 2023

23 – Given how great Jokic and Murray played and how badly the Heat shot in Game 1, Miami is still in good position to try to earn a road trade. Tomorrow’s film session will be a rough watch for the likes of Strus, Martin and Robinson, but there are positives to take away from this game.

24 – The final thought goes back to the first thought and it’s just wonderful how special Jokic is on the court. In the first half, he surgically dismantled the Miami defense, setting up his teammates for great shots time and time again. And when the game got tight and they needed him to score, he delivered 12 points in the fourth quarter to seal the win. On to game 2.