The Miami Heat got the fourth-quarter surge they needed to come back and beat the Denver Nuggets, 111-108, in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night.
The Heat went on a 17-4 run to start the final quarter, regaining the lead, but the Nuggets were able to use an 11-2 run of their own to get within three points of the Heat with less than 90 seconds to play.
However, the Heat were able to fend off desperation mode, as Jimmy Butler closed out on a stepback Jamal Murray three-pointer that would’ve sent the game to overtime at the final buzzer.
Murray’s shot was just short, hitting the front rim as the clock struck zero – just as Miami wanted it to.
Getting one game to go your way on the road is always a success in the playoffs, and one of the main reasons that came to be was making the three ball.
Miami, who leads all playoff teams in three-point percentage this postseason, struggled in Game 1 of the Finals, especially from Max Strus and Gabe Vincent who previously thrived from beyond the arc.
Strus was a stunning 0-for-10 from the field, including nine missed threes, in Game 1. But, as the saying goes, shooters shoot.
Strus hit four first-quarter threes to get Miami off to a hot start (they won the quarter 26-23). He would miss his next six attempts from deep, but the Heat needed that production.
Vincent was even better, going 4-of-6 from three, and 8-of-12 overall for a team-high 23 points with three assists and two steals for the Heat.
Butler came in clutch in the fourth quarter – a common occurrence these days – as he finished 7-for-19 for 21 points with nine assists and four rebounds. Bam Adebayo also contributed 21 points of his own on 8-of-14 from the field, adding a perfect 5-of-5 from the charity stripe.
As a team, the Heat shot 48.6% from three, which is the recipe for success when trying to beat the Nuggets.
On Denver’s end, Nikola Jokic didn’t have a triple-double like he did in Game 1, but he did drop 41 points on 16-for-28 to lead the game in that category. He had 11 rebounds to make it a double-double, but only four assists as he took the scoring into his own hands Sunday night.
It was odd to see Murray with just 18 points considering how he’s been performing in these playoffs – he’s averaged 27 points a night since entering Game 2. He had 18 points on 7-of-15 from the field (3-of-8 from three).
Aaron Gordon provided 12 points and seven rebounds, while Bruce Brown came off the bench with 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting.
With this loss, Denver conceded their first playoff game at home.
Game 3 will take place in Miami on Wednesday with tip-off set for 8:30 p.m.