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Nikola Jokic makes Finals history in Game 1 win over Heat
By Mike Santa Barbara,
In his NBA Finals debut, Nikola Jokic didn't disappoint, putting up an historic stat line to help the Denver Nuggets take Game 1 on Thursday over the Miami Heat, 104-93.
Jokic became only the second player in NBA Finals history to post a triple-double in their first go-around on the league's biggest stage, joining Hall of Famer Jason Kidd (2002).
The two-time MVP figures to be hoping his Finals appearance ends better than that of Kidd. Luckily for Jokic, he is already one win ahead of Kidd, whose New Jersey Nets suffered a sweep at the hands of Shaquille O'Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Pacing the Nuggets' effort on Thursday, Jokic shot 8-of-12 from the field and 10-of-12 from the charity stripe to lead Denver with 27 points. He also recorded 14 assists, the most by a center in Finals history .
Jokic's triple-double, remarkably, was his ninth of the playoffs, but he wasn't the only Nuggets player to pull their weight in Game 1. Jamal Murray was just as impactful, ending the night with 26 points off 11-of-22 shooting from the field while adding 10 assists and six rebounds.
Along with solid efforts from Jokic and Murray, fellow starters Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. finished in double figures, scoring 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Following Jokic's massive effort, he turned the spotlight on his teammates.
"I know I don't need to score to affect the game and I think I did a good job today," Jokic said via ESPN . "AG, Jamal, Mike, Kentavious (Caldwell-Pope), everyone who plays contributes and it's a great win for us."
The Nuggets will look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead to South Beach when they host the Heat for Game 2 of the Finals Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET.