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Nikola Jokić's Historic Game 3: A Masterclass in Greatness
NBA Finals 2023, Game 3, Miami Heat vs Denver Nuggets, will forever be remembered as the night Nikola Jokić not only etched his name into the annals of NBA history but redefined the very essence of greatness in the sport. The Serbian star put up numbers that will forever remain in the record books and played a pivotal role in leading the Nuggets to a 109-94 victory over the Heat, taking a crucial 2-1 series lead1.
The historic night began with Jokić recording the first 30-point, 20-rebound triple-double in NBA Finals history, finishing with a mammoth 32 points, 21 rebounds, and 10 assists. This incredible feat was amplified by the fact that his teammate, Jamal Murray, also notched a triple-double, marking the first time in NBA history - playoffs or regular season - that teammates had scored 30-point triple-doubles1.
"By far, their greatest performance as a duo in their seven years together," Nuggets coach Michael Malone stated, after his team moved two wins away from Denver’s first title2. In addition, Jokić became the seventh player to have two triple-doubles in the same finals, joining the likes of Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Draymond Green, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, and Jimmy Butler. The Serbian star also extended his single-season playoff triple-double record to 10 games, another testament to his unique ability and performance during this postseason2.
Beyond his personal achievements, Jokić's game was instrumental in Denver's comprehensive victory. The Nuggets dominated the Heat inside, outscoring them 60-34 in the paint and outrebounding them 58-33, a testament to their superior physicality and Jokić's dominant presence1. "We were more locked in, more focused,” Jokic said, reflecting on the Nuggets' response after losing home-court advantage in Game 22.
The Nuggets built an early lead in the fourth quarter and successfully held off the Heat. Despite a late surge by Miami, led by Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, the Nuggets remained in control. The outcome was never seriously in doubt, with Jokić and Murray having taken the Nuggets too far ahead to get caught121.
The magnitude of this victory for Denver cannot be overstated. Historically, teams that lead the Finals 2-1 have won the title 79% of the time (49-13)1. This victory has not only put the Nuggets in a favorable position but also reignited their hope for their first NBA championship.
Jokić's performance in Game 3 was a masterclass of dominance, versatility, and poise under pressure. His unique blend of scoring ability, rebounding prowess, and playmaking skills was on full display. This was not just a game; it was a statement of intent, a testament to Jokić's greatness, and a step closer to an NBA title for the Denver Nuggets. As we look forward to the remaining games, one thing is certain: Nikola Jokić has firmly solidified his place among the pantheon of NBA greats.