2023 NBA Finals

Numbers Game: 5 stats to know from Game 4 of NBA Finals

Balanced on offense and spectacular on defense, Denver caps a dominant trip to Miami with another double-digit victory.

Game Recap: Nuggets 108, Heat 95

MIAMI — The Denver Nuggets are going home with a chance to win their first ever NBA championship. They took complete control of the NBA Finals with a 108-95 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 4 on Friday.

The Nuggets got more balanced offense than they did in Game 3, and Aaron Gordon was their leading scorer with 27 points, his most in 39 career playoff games. Denver was in control for most of the night but did have to stymie a couple of Miami runs in the second half.

Here are five numbers to know from a game that put the 2022-23 NBA season on the brink …

104.4 – The Heat scored 95 points on 91 possessions, a rate of just 104.4 per 100.

As terrific as the Nuggets’ stars have been in this series, all four games have, basically, been decided on the Heat’s end of the floor. Miami scored 111 points on just 86 possessions (129.1 per 100) in its Game 2 win, but has scored just 102.2 per 100 over its three losses.

In the 26 previous years for which we have play-by-play data, only one team — the 2000-01 Lakers — has won a championship after ranking lower than 11th defensively in the regular season. The Nuggets ranked 15th this season, but they’ve picked a good time to play some of their best defense of the year. Games 3 and 4 are just the second time all season (the first was two home games on Jan. 9 and 11) that they’ve held their opponent under 105 points per 100 possessions in two straight games.

Nuggets 'just a higher level of Miami' through Finals Game 4

7 – Nikola Jokic had seven deflections in Game 4 (not including include a few kicked balls), four more than any other player

Jokic is certainly not known for his defense and he picked up five fouls (two on the offensive end of the floor) on Friday, but he got multiple stops with his hands …

The two-time Kia MVP was credited with three steals and two blocks, making it just the fifth time this season (and the first time in the playoffs) that he had at least five steals + blocks.

4 – Jamal Murray has had at least 10 assists in all four games of the Finals, recording 12 (tied for his second most this season) in Game 4.

Prior to this series, Murray had double-digit assists in 14 (3.1%) of his 458 career games (regular season + playoffs), and only once did he have double-digit assists in consecutive games. Now, it’s 18 of 462, and he’s done it in four straight. And after committing seven turnovers in Game 3, he had none on Friday. It was the first time a player had at least 12 assists with zero turnovers in a Finals game since Magic Johnson did it in 1987.

Jamal Murray joins GameTime after scoring 15 points with 12 assists (0 TOs) in the Nuggets' Game 4 win

25 – The Heat attempted just 25 3-pointers in Game 4.

Before the game, Nuggets coach Michael Malone made it clear what his team’s No. 1 priority was defensively.

“It’s going to come down to our ability to guard the 3-point line,” he said. “To me, that’s where the series will be won or lost. Can we take away the 3-point shot? The one game that we did not do that, obviously, Game 2, they made 17 3s. That opens up everything else for them.”

Well, his team got the job done on Friday. The Heat’s 25 3-point attempts were 10 fewer than they attempted in any of the first three games of the Finals, and tied for the second fewest they’ve attempted in 22 playoff games.

In this postseason, Miami has faced three opponents — Milwaukee, Boston and Denver — that won more than 60% of their games in the regular season. And in six of their nine wins over those three teams, they’ve shot better than 48% from beyond the arc. In Game 4, the Heat were 8-for-25 (32.0%) from 3-point range. That’s not going to get it done against a team that they can’t stop on the other end of the floor.

5 – The biggest lead that the Heat held in Games 3 or 4 was five points.

The Nuggets were 19-22 on the road in the regular season and lost three of their first four road games in these playoffs. But they were in control for almost all of the two games in Miami. They had the lead for the last 27:03 of Game 3 on Wednesday and trailed for just 1:59 in Game 4 on Friday, with the Heat never making it a single-possession game in the second half.

Denver has now won five straight road games for the first time this season. And they’ll play for a championship at home, where they’re 9-1 in the playoffs.

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John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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