In the Nuggets’ 109-94 road win against the Miami Heat, Jokić became the first ever player to record a 30-20-10 stat line in the NBA Finals. But for the Joker, this was business as usual.
“I don’t care. It’s just a stat,” the Serbian said of his accomplishment after finishing the game with 32 points, 21 rebounds, and 10 assists.
Not only did Jokić make individual history, but alongside Jamal Murray, the duo became the first teammates to both drop triple-doubles in an NBA Finals game. Murray recorded 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the guard torched the Heat from start to finish.
“I’ve been with Nikola for eight and Jamal for seven years now, and we’ve had some pretty good moments, but not in the NBA Finals,” said Nuggets head coach Michael Malone. “For those guys to make history the way they did tonight, no one has ever done that. I mean, that’s what’s really neat about it.”
Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra was also full of praise for Denver’s dynamic duo.
“It’s a great duo. Their games really complement each other,” said Spoelstra on the history-making night. “You have one guy that really can score in a lot of different ways. Another guy who is setting great screens or handoffs, and if the ball gets back to him, he can get a bunch of people involved.”
Game 3 got off to a very even start as both teams traded buckets throughout the opening quarter. The Nuggets eventually took a five-point lead into halftime and didn’t look back after seizing the initiative.
Malone’s team outscored the Heat 29-20 in the third quarter, and this proved to be decisive as Miami failed to get back into the game.
Despite the Heat’s loss, Miami fans would have been happy to see Jimmy Butler scoring points. Butler has been the star for the Heat throughout the playoffs and his scoring will be crucial if Miami are to get back on level terms in Game 4.
“We feel great. We didn’t play our best tonight. I feel like we just got to come out with more energy and effort, and that’s correctible,” said Butler, remaining upbeat. “So come out, dive on the floor, get loose balls, get defensive rebounds and maybe, just maybe, it would have been a different game.”
Aside from Jokić and Murray, it was also a night to remember for Christian Braun. The rookie put on a show in Game 3 – finishing the night with 15 points on 7-8 shooting.
“He just has stayed ready the whole year, mentally, physically, emotionally,” Malone said of the 22-year-old. “That kid never gets too high, never gets too low. Very calm, cool and collected young man.”
Game 4 takes place Friday with the Heat looking to level the series in front of their home crowd at the Kaseya Center.