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HomeBasketballNBANBA Finals Game 1: a running diary

NBA Finals Game 1: a running diary

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We made it! Game 1 of the NBA Finals. 

This year’s Finals seems to be a foregone conclusion, with the Denver Nuggets as heavy favorites to win their first championship. But, as they’ve shown all postseason long, you can’t count out the Miami Heat.

We’ll see if the Heat will be a match for the Nuggets skill. 

To start, I’ll do a running diary of Game 1.



  • Loud crowd, as it should be. I hate that even in big games arena staff has to tell fans to get loud. Your team is the Finals. You should be hype!
  • That’s a lot of guys singing the national anthem. All eight of the guys have very Denver looks if you know what I mean. It looks like they vibe out to a lot of Wiz Khalifa.
  • Another Jimmy Butler Michelob Ultra commercial with Hootie and the Blowfish playing in the background. It’s a different genre, but the ad reminded me that Jimmy loves his country music. He’s even a fan of an artist who doesn’t seem like he’d be a fan of Jimmy’s… 
  • ABC airs a Finals promo featuring a handful of NBA champions. Including the most overrated champ of all time: the 2008 Boston Celtics. That team was really good, but I don’t know another group that’s eaten off of one title like they have. 
  • Both Denver and Miami are 3-0 in Game 1s this postseason. Miami was an underdog in all three of its Game 1 wins, all on the road.

1st quarter

11:45: Jamal Murray gets right to the basket for a double pump shot. He’s gonna be able to get into the lane whenever he wants this series. Boston figured that out way too late in the last series. I don’t think Denver will have that problem.

10:15: Mike Breen mentions how Miami and Denver are the top two teams in the playoffs in terms of 3-point shooting. Miami in the regular season was 21st in the league in 3-point shooting. The Heat in the regular season had three games where it shot better than 50 percent from 3. Miami did that three times in the East Finals against Boston.

9:41: Jimmy Butler starts off 2-2. It’s obvious but he’ll need to have a big series. He’s played well, but those huge games he had against Milwaukee were a long time ago.

7:41: Aaron Gordon getting right to the basket early. It’s a luxury when a guy like Gordon can be your fourth-best player. Kind of like where Wiggins is with Golden State.

6:34: Miami calls timeout after another Gordon bucket. That leads to a random thought: Denver’s front line is really big. Porter is playing small forward at 6-10. Gordon is a strong 6-8. Nikola Jokic is a wide, nimble 6-11. A big, athletic front line can go a long way. They’re not the Bird/McHale/Parish Celtics, but Denver’s group should give teams trouble for a long time.

6:12: The first real highlight of the Finals comes on a Bam Adebayo tip dunk. Adebayo is a really solid talent, but I can’t help think how much better Miami would be if it didn’t rely so much on his offense.

3:27: Jokic draws an “ooohh” from the crowd on a pass to a wide-open Jamal Murray for a two-hand dunk. Jokic is so good. 

0:00: Denver outscores Miami 20-6 in the paint. This isn’t Boston. Denver is a good 3-point shooting team, but doesn’t rely on the shot as heavily as the Celtics. 

Second quarter

10:54: Noticing that no player on the court is playing in high tops. Is that why we’ve seen so many ankle injuries in recent years?

10:30: Jamal Murray nails a straightaway 3 against the Heat zone. Denver scores on the first possession it sees the zone.

8:26: ABC shows a shot of Nuggets mascot Rocky going through the stands. Rocky makes $625,000 a year. How do I get that job? Is it hot in that suit? What kind of experience do you need to become an NBA mascot? I could buy a lot of sneakers with that. 

5:43: Miami cuts the Denver lead to 6. The Heat are now scoring as easily as Denver. This is a good game so far. I thought Denver would smoke Miami tonight.

3:22: Cody Zeller guarding Jokic goes about as well as you’d think. Jokic catches the ball on the left wing, takes two dribbles, and gets a layup. How do you know he’s the best player in the world? The refs ignored the clear off arm Jokic hit Zeller with on the way to the basket. He’s arrived!!!!

:35: Jokic gets his 10th assist of the half on a Murray 3. How many guys have been better passers than Jokic? Magic, Chris Paul, Bird and LeBron? That’s all I got.

:00: Denver closes the half on a 16-5 run to take a 17-point lead into halftime. Some people are gonna go to bed now. I don’t blame them. This game’s over.

Third quarter

11:09: Bam Adebayo is having the offensive game of his life. He’s got 20 points in barely a half of basketball. He’s already made 10 shots.

9:40: Caleb Martin, who should have been named MVP of the East Finals, is 0-6. It’s still early, but maybe I was wrong about him.

8:44: Miami is 5-20 from 3. This feels like the Heat team that sleepwalked through the regular season.

8:37: Three-point play for Murray. He’s got 24 on 14 shots. Murray is my pick to win Finals MVP. Jokic will have great games all series, but Murray’s shooting and scoring is going to be too much to handle.

5:37: Hey! It’s my buddy Dan Issel! Great college player and a great pro. Really nice man too.

3:06: Butler has a solid stat line, but he doesn’t look right. He’s 5-13 from the field and has been missing shots he’s made in previous rounds. He might just be worn out.

0:00: Denver extends its lead to 21 after three quarters. The Nuggets have too many options capable of scoring in too many ways. This series is gonna be short, but it’s gonna be a long one for Miami.

Fourth quarter

12:00: Jokic is on the floor at a time he usually rests. It’s the Finals. You can’t have the same rotations and sub patterns you’d have in February. I wish more teams did that.

10:02: Kyle Lowry hits a 3 to cut the Nuggets lead to 84-71. Miami is on an 8-0 run. The Heat refuse to die.

9:28: Lowry hits another 3 to bring Miami to within 10. He’s showing flashes of 2019 NBA Finals Kyle Lowry. 

2:33: The latest Heat player to come out of nowhere: Haywood Highsmith. He’s got 15 points tonight. That’s three off a season high that came in a 10-point loss to the Bulls in December. Where does Pat Riley find these guys? I bet he could find a pair of Jordans at a TJ Maxx.

1:38: Jokic becomes the second player to get a triple double in his Finals debut, joining Jason Kidd, who did it in 2002. Kidd’s Nets lost to the Lakers by 5. Jokic’s Nuggets are about to win by double digits. 

:32: Miami waves the white flag. The Heat tonight so far have only taken two free throws. That’s a new low for an NBA Finals game.

0:00: The Nuggets win by 11. Jokic and Murray combined for 53 points on 34 shots. Michael Porter Jr. finished with 14 and 13 rebounds despite an awful shooting night.

Denver is going to win this series. It’s only a matter of when. The Nuggets defense has been really good in the playoffs and their offense has been the most potent of all the playoff teams. 

Miami has made a remarkable run to the Finals, but the Heat just don’t have the scoring to compete with Denver. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will make adjustments, and Jimmy Butler will rebound from a subpar offensive performance. But Nuggets coach Mike Malone will make adjustments too.

We’ll find out what those adjustments are on Sunday.

See you then.

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