The Miami Heat started the first quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Finals well, taking a lead after one quarter. When the second quarter started, Denver Nuggets’ superstar Nikola Jokić, was on the bench. That was a golden opportunity for the Heat to take control.
It didn’t happen. In fact, the exact opposite happened.
The Nuggets closed the first quarter strong, but still trailed 26-23. If there was any concern in Denver that the deficit would grow with Jokić taking a breather, it was quickly alleviated. When Jokić re-entered the game with 7:05 remaining in the second quarter, the Nuggets had assumed control and led 44-35. If we include the two free throws Jeff Green made (which prompted Jokić’s return), the Nuggets outscored the Heat 23-9 with the two-time NBA MVP on the bench.
And while that run didn’t end the game, it did have a decidedly different feel to it.
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) June 5, 2023
NBA fans watching Game 2 took strong notice of Denver’s run in Jokić’s absence.
Losing the minutes with Jokic on the bench is not a great formula for Miami.
— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) June 5, 2023
A ticked off Murray is an even better Murray. Up 12 and all happening with Jokic on the bench. Heat may have shot their best shot and this is where we are. pic.twitter.com/LKznsgaJSL
— Darren McKee (@DMacRadio) June 5, 2023
Denver Nuggets with Jokic on the bench
last 2 seasons
Before tonight … -625
Tonight ………………. +15
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) June 5, 2023
Denver going on a wild run on the backs of Bruce Brown and Christian Braun while Jokic is on the bench is about as bad as it gets
Kyle has been terrible and Caleb can’t handle the defensive attention he’s getting
— Christian Hernandez (@ICanBeYourHerro) June 5, 2023
— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) June 5, 2023
If Miami is going to beat Denver, the Heat will need to take full advantage of the moments when Jokić is on the bench. This is especially true for the games in Denver, one of which the Heat must win if they’re going to win the series.