The Denver Nuggets controlled the first half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat, taking a 17-point lead at halftime. And as is so often the case with Denver — especially when things are going well — Nikola Jokić was integral.
Jokić didn’t shoot much in the first half, but made the most of the shots he did take. The star center was 3-for-3 from the field and 4-for-4 on free throws, finishing the half with 10 points. He was also the Nuggets’ primary distributor in the first half, dishing out 10 assists. That’s not something that’s been done a lot in recent years.
ESPN Stats & Info tweeted at halftime that Jokić became only the second player over the last 25 years to have 10 points and 10 assists in the first half of an NBA Finals game. As would likely be expected, the other player to do that is LeBron James. But Jokić did it much quicker, doing it in his first career NBA Finals game. By contrast, LeBron did so in his 42nd.
Nikola Jokic joins LeBron James as the only players in the last 25 years with 10 points & 10 assists in any half of an NBA Finals game.
James did it in his 42nd Finals game.
Jokic did it in his 1st. pic.twitter.com/VZKy7uFQps
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 2, 2023
NBA fans reacted to Jokić’s latest display of excellence.
— betway (@betwayusa) June 2, 2023
— Romi Bean (@Romi_Bean) June 2, 2023
— TheGaryJoeCollins™️ (@TGJC1979) June 2, 2023
Still wild that he’s breaking/tying records on a night where it looks like he’s barely trying lmao https://t.co/xdOORJqZIK
— EDEN (@SoulLowSlow) June 2, 2023
What’s also notable is that LeBron’s 42nd NBA Finals game was Game 2 of the 2017 Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Despite LeBron’s heroics, lost that game decisively, 132-113 and trailed 67-64 at halftime. That’s a strong contrast to Denver’s 59-42 lead at halftime of Game 1 in 2023.