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SBNation.com – All Posts: Nikola Jokic’s triple-double NBA Finals masterpiece proves there is no stopping him


2023 NBA Finals - Game One
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Nikola Jokic can’t be stopped.

The first sequence of Denver’s 104-93 victory over Miami in Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals foreshadowed things to come— Jamal Murray drove to the basket for two, Max Strus missed a response mid-ranger, Jimmy Butler scored on a second chance baseline jumper, then Nikola Jokic had a hand in four of Denver’s next six points.

Miami was able to keep pace with Denver over the first five minutes or so, but by the end of the first quarter — when Jokic attempted his first shot — the Nuggets were already threatening to take control and run away with it, leading 29-20.

They extended that out even further in the second quarter, which included turning a six-point lead into a 14-point lead over 4:39 late in the frame. Jokic was just about perfect in the first half, tallying 10 points (3-3 FG) and 10 assists (no turnovers), becoming the first player to have 10 assists in a half of a Finals debut and the first player to have 10 assists and no turnovers in a half of any Finals game.

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

Going into the third quarter with patented elevation looming over the second half, Denver led 59-42. Four Nuggets starters were already in double-figures while two Heat starters, Caleb Martin and Max Strus, combined for 0 points on 0-12 combined shooting, painting a massive discrepancy across the respective starting lineups.

Denver used two key runs to separate completely in the third quarter: an 8-2 run early in the frame which featured six points from Murray and a 10-0 run (including seven Bruce Brown points) to take an 84-60 lead late.

Nuggets coasted the rest of the way, staving off a 14-0 Miami run to pull within 10 after that 84-60 lead. That push by the Heat included four threes, three scored by Kyle Lowry who assisted on the other. Heat were within single-digits as late as two-and-a-half minutes remaining, but couldn’t come close enough to truly threaten.

First-half history wasn’t enough for Jokic, who finished with a triple-double in his first-ever Finals appearance: game-high 27 points (8-12 FG), 10 rebounds, game-high 14 assists (just one turnover). He’s the first in Finals history with at least 25/10/10 on 12 or fewer shot attempts, and the 14 assists is the most by anyone in a Finals debut and the most by any center ever.

Jokic has now had triple-doubles in seven of his last nine games in these playoffs. He’s the second player to ever have a triple-double in his Finals debut:

Nikola Jokic becomes the 2nd player to record a triple-double in their Finals debut, joining Jason Kidd.

Kidd: 23 PTS, 10 REB, 10 AST on 6/5/2002

Jokic: 27 PTS, 14 AST, 10 REB in Game 1 pic.twitter.com/ZqqsfmKtoQ

— NBA History (@NBAHistory) June 2, 2023

Nuggets put out another strong showing at Ball Arena, improving to 9-0 there this postseason. They’ll try to make that 10-0 and a 2-0 series lead on Sunday night at 8 p.m. after the Heat get consecutive off-days for the first time since before the Eastern Conference Finals two weeks ago.

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