Podcast: Nikola Jokic shreds the Heat in Game 3. How can Miami get back into NBA Finals?

Al Diaz/adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Miami Heat couldn’t stop Nikola Jokic in Game 3 and now trails the Denver Nuggets, 2-1, in the 2023 NBA Finals.

The Heat Check podcast is back with an immediate reaction to Game 3 of the NBA Finals, with David Wilson and Anthony Chiang, the Miami Herald’s Heat beat writer, offering up their takes on what went wrong for Miami on Wednesday and what the Heat can do to get back into this series.

Miami set a template in Game 2 when it beat the Nuggets in Denver and gave glimpses of what’s still possible in the first half of Game 3 before the Nuggets pulled away for a 109-94 win at the Kaseya Center.

A comeback in the Finals will have to start with Jimmy Butler and the forward mostly looked up to the task Wednesday. The 33-year-old star was aggressive early and paced the Heat with 28 points in Miami before fading in the second half as the game got out of hand.

The Heat didn’t lose Game 3 because of its stars. Butler and All-Star center Bam Adebayo, who had 22 points and 17 rebounds, weren’t Miami’s problem, even though Jokic and Denver guard Jamal Murray outdueled them with a pair of 30-point triple-doubles. The Heat shot just 31.4 percent from three-point range, and Adebayo and Butler were its only two players to score more than 10 points.

Miami’s offense generated enough good looks, but always tends to go as its three-point shooting goes. The Heat also needs to be better at the rim after shooting just 35 percent there in Game 3. Butler’s finishing still can be better.

On defense, the task is going to be tougher because Jokic, at this point, doesn’t seem to have a bad game in him. The superstar post player has two triple-doubles in three games and still scored 41 points in the other one -- a relatively down performance because the 28-year-old Serbian had more turnovers than assists.

This week’s episode explores all of that and more.

As always, thanks for listening and please continue to rate, review and subscribe on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.