Two games of the NBA Finals are behind us, the score is settled

Denver unchallenged in Game 1

Nikola Jokić and his teammates sent a clear message to their rivals in the first game. Firstly, to show who is the master of the home court and secondly, that they don’t intend to hand over even a single point in the final series. There was practically no doubt about the winner from the first second on, it was 104:93. Determination and confidence were the hallmarks of Mike Malone’s team. On the other hand, Miami, perhaps also influenced by the last series against the Boston Celtics, was a bit worn out. They simply couldn’t keep up with the pace set by the home players. Jokić showed right away that he meant business and completely outshined his opponent with a phenomenal performance of 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. The rest of the team added their own and the first win was recorded.

Jokić and Malone happy with the work done

The home team did not hide their satisfaction after their opening success, with coach Mike Malone praising his players especially for their defensive performance.

“I am very happy with the defence. Miami only had two free throws, Jimmy Butler didn’t make any. Only the last quarter frustrated me. It’s a final and you have to be focused for the whole 48 minutes. We started the last quarter really badly, we were immediately given eight points by the Heat and the lead pretty much disappeared.”

Nikola Jokić also gave his views after the game.

“Gordon and Murray were lively in the first quarter, we quickly built up a lead and didn’t need to finish the action. We were all very focused, we weren’t tense because it was our first final game. Miami is a very good defensive team that never gives up,”

Spoelstra had already known the key to success

On the other hand, the team from Florida was not satisfied with their opening performance. They showed a lack of aggression, the ball didn’t go through the hoop. Not a single player got a break, no matter how hard the visitors’ coach Eric Spoelstra tried to find a hot five on the floor.

“We weren’t at our best in the first half, we played much better in the second half. We can’t afford such a bad start in the final. We didn’t expect an easy final, we have a big challenge ahead of us. We will analyse the first game and I expect a much better performance on Sunday. We had a few open three-pointers, but we were not accurate. We can win games, even if we shoot poorly from behind the line,”

said Spoelstra, who is managing the Heat in the NBA Finals for the sixth time. He won the title in 2012 and 2013, when LeBron James was the Finals MVP.

Jimmy Butler, the team’s first star, pointed out where he believes he and his teammates made the biggest mistakes

“We didn’t necessarily have a problem with the altitude in Denver. Everything was fine, we just struggled shooting from the field. We weren’t aggressive enough, so we only made two free throws. Denver had a much better way of finishing their actions, whereas we were going for the tough shots. Adebayo was great. I expect a lot of things to be different in the second game. I am sure we will learn a lot from this defeat,”

Turnaround in the second match

The Miami Heat were well aware of how much confidence Denver would have going into the game in Florida if they had won the second matchup. But anyone who knows the Heat knows that they never give up. It was no different this time, when, especially in the last quarter, they closed ranks and forced their opponents to make numerous mistakes. It was the last quarter in particular that gave the away team the win and evened the series at 1-all, before heading to Miami. Final score 111:108.

Jokić was great again, scoring 41 points, but that was part of Miami’s strategy

The second match provided a completely different story than the one before. Jokić scored a lot more points, but he only had four assists. Quite unusual, which is what led to Denver’s defeat on their home floor. Miami’s plan paid off, they blocked the rest of the opponents’ players, and they did a great job of circulating the ball on offense. Success was assured.

Spoelstra impressed by Adebayo’s performance

“We played great defence in the last quarter. In the first game, we continued with our starting five, which got us the win over Boston. Martin was sick and didn’t train on Saturday, so I counted on Love, who has been playing most of the games in the playoffs this year in the starting five. I’m most impressed that Adebayo played so well on offense after having the toughest job on defense, having to cover the best player in the world,”

explained Spoelstra, who is chasing a third title in his sixth NBA Finals appearance.

For the second time in a row, they concede in the last quarter

“In the dressing room I asked the boys why we lost the game and they immediately had the right answer. Miami outplayed us, they were more aggressive and we played the least disciplined game in this year’s championship playoffs. If we want to win any games in Miami and regain home-court advantage, all that will have to change completely. I had mentioned that Strus and Vincent would score from behind the line after not scoring in the first game. We were lucky on Thursday that they missed 11 of 16 open three-pointers, but this time they didn’t. We allowed 36 points in the final quarter after playing very well defensively in the first 36 minutes. For the second time in a row, we gave up in the last quarter. That’s not how you win a game in the Finals,”

Malone explained very frankly.