Intractable and simply superior, the Nuggets of the essential Nikola Jokic, supported by his evening lieutenants Aaron Gordon and Bruce Brown, imposed themselves at the Heat (108-95), Friday, to approach very close to a first NBA championship title.
Here is Denver one victory away from the Grail. For the peaceful town at the foot of the Rockies, the wait could well end on Monday in the already decisive game N.5, after 47 seasons in the league. “We’re going to have to turn off the TV and the radio, not read the papers, not listen to everyone telling us how awesome we are, because we haven’t done anything yet. By keeping our identity, we will have a great chance of achieving this, ”called Nuggets coach Michael Malone.
Miami, for its part, finds itself with its back against the wall, forced to achieve a feat that has only happened once in history, by Cleveland and LeBron James against Golden State in 2016: winning the last three games of the series after being down 3-1.
“We are capable of it. There are things to correct obviously, but it is not impossible, ”said Butler, performing (25 pts, 7 assists) without however weighing enough. However, it will certainly take the Floridians more than their courage, their gnaque and their exemplary leader, to overturn this mountain in Colorado, as the ascent seems impossible whatever the slope.
Gordon “a warrior”
Because if Jokic was still ultra-dominant inside (24 pts, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 interceptions, 2 blocks), it only lasted three quarters, since at the start of the last he was upset with a fifth foul that sent him to rest.
Under the eyes of footballers Paul Pogba and Neymar, actor Forest Whitaker and rapper Lil Wayne, the Serbian giant also had to have his right ankle treated, slightly twisted at the start of the match.
The double MVP will nevertheless have had the satisfaction of seeing Bruce Brown catch fire in the last quarter, since he scored 11 of his 21 points, with a formidable address (8/11). On his own, he made futile the inclinations of the Heat, which had just reduced the gap to 7 units after counting 17 behind in the previous period.
The precious replacement was thus the “X factor” in the money-time for Denver, long towed by Aaron Gordon, who walked on water with 27 points in his bag at 11/15 on shots including 3/4 behind the ‘bow. Quite simply the best performance of his career in the play-offs, hailed in these terms by Malone: “He was enormous all evening, a warrior on both sides of the floor”.
“Things can change”
Thus the Nuggets have again demonstrated the extent of their collective talent and the variety of their offensive armada, while Jamal Murray was contained to him at 15 points (5/17), nevertheless managing to contribute by his altruism with 12 offerings .
“Today was a team effort. I can’t even name a person. Everyone got involved, ”commented the rear, the first player since Magic Johnson (Lakers) to have delivered at least 10 assists in his first four games in a final.
Denver’s new show of force also resulted in a 50% three-point success (14/28), when the gunners opposite launched into the void, like Gabriel Vincent and Max Strus in full shipwreck ( 2 cumulative pts, 1/10 on shots).
As usual, the Floridians, like Bam Adebayo (20 pts, 11 rebounds) and veteran Kyle Lowry (13 pts, 7 assists) did not fail and fought with all their might to try to delude in a meeting where they never gave the impression of being able to reverse the situation.
And because such is the “Heat Culture”, they intend to fight until the end. “We have an incredibly competitive group. We have done everything the hard way so far, and we will have to do it again, focusing first on the need to return to Miami (for a sixth game, editor’s note). Things can still change very quickly,” warned coach Erik Spoelstra.
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