The Miami Heat are now on the brink of losing the 2023 NBA Finals.
The Denver Nuggets once again dominated Miami 108-95 at the Kaseya Center in Game 4 on Friday, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead. One more win for Denver and it will become NBA champions for the first time in franchise history.
Miami had stayed in the game at halftime after two even quarters, trailing 55-51. But the momentum started swinging in the third and fourth quarters, where the Nuggets’ collective firepower was just too much for the Heat to contain.
Denver outscored Miami 31-22 in the third quarter, and though the Heat rallied in the fourth to keep the game state close, the Nuggets’ role players just could not be stopped down the stretch, primarily Bruce Brown Jr.
The Heat were led by Jimmy Butler’s 25 points and Bam Adebayo’s 20. Kyle Lowry, Kevin Love and Duncan Robinson all added double-digit points, but they were on the lower end (13, 12 and 12, respectively) compared to what Denver’s role players produced.
While Nikola Jokic dropped 23 and Jamal Murray had 15, Aaron Gordon came alive with his best performance of the playoffs, going for 27 on 11-for-15 shooting, six rebounds, six assists and two steals. Brown then off the bench supplied 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting.
Miami’s unlikely heroes from prior series continued their poor run of form in Game 4, too. Gabe Vincent logged just two points on 1-for-6 shooting (0-for-4 from deep) in 19 minutes while Max Strus went scoreless in 19 minutes, going 0-for-4 overall, including three missed triples. Caleb Martin added some points late in the game to total 11, but it took 12 shots to do so in what has been a rough series for him against Denver’s wings.
It didn’t help that Denver shot 50% from deep on 14-for-28 shooting, whereas Miami mustered just 8 of 25 for 32%. The paint battle was much closer this time as Denver edged Miami 48-46, but the real disparity came from beyond the arc. The Nuggets also scored 17 points off 15 Heat turnovers, whereas Miami managed eight points off eight Denver mistakes.
The series now heads back to Denver, which could be the last game of the 2022-23 season if the Nuggets win and make it a 4-1 gentleman’s sweep.
On the message the Heat are going into the game with, head coach Erik Spoelstra said it’s all about how they return to Florida for Game 6, a situation they’ve been in already this postseason.
“We’ve done everything the hard way, and that’s the way it’s gonna have to be done again,” Spoelstra said. “All we’re going to focus on is getting this thing back to the 305. Get this things back to Miami and things can shift very quickly.”
Game 5 is slated for Monday, June 12, with tip-off time set for 8:30 p.m. ET.
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