The Denver Nuggets and Miami got the first quarter of their Game 3 matchup with the Heat going on a quick run to take the lead, but the Nuggets started to claw their way back into it. The Nuggets couldn’t hit a triple in the first period, but they were finding shots inside. The two sides traded baskets in the final minute to tie the game at 24, and this game looked like they could be destined for a defensive grudge match.

In the second quarter, it continued to be a slugfest back and forth. To start the quarter, neither team was gaining any separation, and the Nuggets couldn’t get any offense going unless Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray were involved. They had combined for 34 points and 11 assists. Meanwhile, the Heat were largely being led by Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, who had a combined 27 points. Denver was leading 53-48 thanks to a late spurt, but this game was from over as we had seen through the first two games of the series.

In the third quarter, the Nuggets were continuing to play through Jokic and Murray, and they continued to find success inside the arc. Through three quarters, those two had combined for 48 of the team’s 82 points, and they had combined for 17 of the team’s 24 assists. Christian Braun had also provided a punch off of the bench with 10 points, and it was now an 82-68 game to start the fourth quarter, and that’s where the Heat had dominated all series.

The Nuggets’ defense was active to start the fourth quarter. They had three blocks in the first two minutes, and they had started the quarter on a 4-2 run with Butler on the bench for Miami. Butler re-entered the game, but the Nuggets were not letting up. They quickly drew a foul on him, and, Braun continued his strong play over the next few minutes. Denver’s lead was up to 21 with 8:28 remaining in the game.

Coming out of a timeout, Kyle Lowry knocked down a triple to stop the bleeding on Denver’s run. Miami’s run continued over the next two minutes, and they were now trailing by just 14 with six minutes remaining. Over the next couple of minutes, Jokic continued his magical playoff run as he became the first player in NBA history to record a 30-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist triple-double in an NBA Finals game. The Nuggets were looking to ice the game late, and, as they had all night, everything was going through Jokic and Murray. The Heat were down 15, and they were waving the white flag with multiple reserves entering the game.

However, with 90 seconds remaining, the Heat made a triple that had made it a 10-point game, and Michael Malone wasn’t pleased. The game was winding down, but the Heat, as they had all playoffs long, were hanging around. It was now a nine-point game with 1:14 remaining. Caleb Martin missed a triple, and it looked like the Heat were officially calling it quits with all of their starters being pulled from the game. Despite some late fireworks from Miami, the Nuggets would hang on to win Game 3 and regain home-court advantage in the series by a score of 109-94 thanks in large part to 30-point triple-doubles from Jokic and Murray.

Stat Leaders

Points: Jamal Murray – 34

Assists: Nikola Jokic & Murray – 10

Rebounds: Jokic – 21

Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic – 32 points, 10 assists, 21 rebounds, 12-of-21 field goal, 1-of-2 3-point, 7-of-8 free throw