It’s really a credit to the Miami Heat that they were able to get out to the start they did, getting out to such early leads as 5-0, 9-4, and 14-10. It’s just too bad they weren’t able to keep the game competitive much longer beyond that, having only one other multi-possession lead in the first half and not a single lead in the second.
A good deal of the credit for Denver’s second-half dominance goes to Christian Braun, who had 11 points, one assist, and one steal in the second half after just four points, no assists, and no steals in the first.
He, in that moment, made it feel more like a big 3 in Denver than just the dynamic duo at the top, similar to Caleb Martin’s moments throughout this postseason for the Heat.
Nikola Jokic, who seems to make history every time he touches the hardwood, became the first player in NBA Finals history to post a 30-20-10 game. He finished with 32-21-10 on 12-21 shooting for his record-setting 10th triple-double this postseason (the rest of the league has three combined).
Jamal Murray, who scored 20 of his 34 points in the first half to help Denver brush off Miami’s hot start, added to the history by finishing with a 34-10-10 triple-double, giving the pair the league’s first ever game with two 30-10-10 teammates, whether it be in the Finals, playoffs, or regular season.
The two teammates, helped by Braun, took control of the game in the second half, where the three combined for 43 points shooting 16-26 while the rest of the team scored 13 points on 4-10 shooting. Comparatively, Miami scored 46 points on 16-46 shooting.
Braun even got to join the ESPN set after the game:
Denver’s “big 3” thwarted a few late pushes by Miami, including a few 7-0 spurts and a 19-8 run down the stretch. In every case, it was Murray ending the run, keeping Denver in control. Here’s what the star guard had to say about the rookie wing’s standout performance after the game:
“We’re finiding him like he’s a 5-year vet. He just plays the game the right way, every game.”
-Jamal Murray on Christian Braun:
“He’s got a lot more game to come, not just in these Finals, but for his career. We’re excited to see what he can do.” pic.twitter.com/c2veOF8TrI
— Joel Rush (@JoelRushNBA) June 8, 2023
Now after losing the home-court advantage they stole in Denver, the Heat get a chance to salvage what’s left of this homestand during a Friday night game 4, starting at 8:30 p.m.