Jun 9, 2023 - Sports

Heat must fight back in Game 4 to avoid NBA Finals knockout

Jamal Murray of the Nuggets battles for the ball against Haywood Highsmith and Caleb Martin in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Heat got bullied into a 2-1 hole in the NBA Finals and now have to try to dig out before they get buried for good.

Why it matters: If the Nuggets beat the Heat Friday night at the Kaseya Center, they return to Denver Monday for a chance to win their first-ever championship in front of their home crowd.

  • Game 6 would be back in Miami.

The intrigue: While teams that win Game 3 of a 1-1 finals go on to win 80% of the time, four teams in the last 12 years have rallied back from a 2-1 deficit to become champions — including the 2013 Heat, per The Athletic.

Keys to success: Denver has had the two best players in this series: Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray, who combine to form a deadly inside-out offensive attack. They became the first teammates in finals history to both record triple-doubles in Game 3.

The bottom line: The Heat aren't as good on paper as the Nuggets, but that's been the case all playoffs long.

💭 Martin's thought bubble: Don't put 43-year-old Udonis Haslem in for garbage time in a blowout. Give him a couple minutes in the first half to grab a loose ball and take a hard foul to inspire this team again.

Meanwhile, the Panthers showed some fight last night, winning their first game of the Stanley Cup Final, 3-2 in overtime, against the Vegas Golden Knights.

  • Florida is down 2-1 in the series with Game 4 back at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise tomorrow night.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Miami.

More Miami stories