NBA Finals: Nuggets fend off Heat in Game 4 to take 3-1 lead, eyeing first ever championship

The Nuggets will attempt to close out their first NBA Finals appearance on Monday night in Denver

Nikola Jokić and the Denver Nuggets are now just a single win away from their first-ever NBA title.

The Nuggets, after nearly losing Jokić to an ankle injury early and then again late due to foul trouble, mounted another second-half run and held on late to put the Miami Heat away 108-95 on Friday night at the Kaseya Center in Miami. The Nuggets now hold a 3-1 series lead ahead of Game 5 on Monday night, where they can secure their first championship at Ball Arena in Denver.

Jokić rolled his ankle hard near the end of the first quarter when he landed on Heat guard Max Strus’ foot. He left the game and briefly went to the locker room, but returned to the bench a few minutes later.

Thankfully for Denver, Jokić was fine. He drilled a deep 3-pointer almost instantly upon reentry to the game, and finished the first half with 16 points and five rebounds. The Nuggets took a five-point lead into the break.

Then, like they have multiple times already this season, the Nuggets took over in the third quarter. They opened the period on a 10-4 run, which gave them the first double-digit lead of the game.

Though the period got a bit weird near the end — there was about an eight-minute break that included a broken rim due to a Bam Adebayo dunk, a fan who had a medical emergency behind the Heat bench and a heated pickleball discussion on ABC — Gordon converted an alley-oop from Jokić and hit a late 3-pointer to send Denver back up by 13 entering the final quarter.

The Nuggets ran away with Game 4 late on Friday night in Miami to take a 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals.
The Nuggets ran away with Game 4 late on Friday night in Miami to take a 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Heat took advantage of a rather generous foul call on Jokić early in the fourth that sent him to the bench for much of the period. Well, at least they did right away. Miami cut the game to five points almost instantly, and seemed to be poised to make a run and even the series up. But that was as close as they got.

The Nuggets kept the Heat at arm's length until Jokić checked back in near the four-minute mark, coming up with an answer to just about every attack they had before shutting down Miami’s offense almost completely. The Heat scored just four points in a more than four-minute stretch late while the Nuggets ran away with the 13-point win.

Gordon led the Nuggets with 27 points in the win. Jokić finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Jamal Murray added 15 points and 12 assists, while Bruce Brown put up 21 points off the bench. The Nuggets shot 50% from behind the 3-point line.

Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Adebayo added 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Game 5 of the series is set for Monday night in Denver.