Nuggets win finals rematch, take over first place in the Western Conference

Mar 13, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA;  Denver Nuggets guard Reggie Jackson (7) is congratulated
Mar 13, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Reggie Jackson (7) is congratulated / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets traveled to Miami Wednesday night and beat the Heat 100-88 in Kaseya Center. This was the second meeting of the season since the teams met in the NBA Finals in June when Denver won four games to one.

They also faced off on February 29th in Ball Arena in Denver, with the Nuggets pulling out a close one down the stretch 103-97. Wednesday night was another hard-fought back-and-forth affair, with the Nuggets leading by just one point entering the fourth quarter.

Another clutch Nuggets win

But in what has become a familiar trend, the Nuggets absolutely dominated the final frame, winning the fourth quarter 28-17. They imposed their will when it mattered most, as they have time and again. 

The way they crank it up on both sides of the ball late in games continues to be one of the most impressive things the Nuggets do. It’s no coincidence that the Nuggets have the best NET Rating in clutch situations at 24.9.

It was an oddly quiet night for Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Jokic has 12 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists while Murray had 14 points and 5 assists. Those are low numbers for their lofty standards. 

Instead, it was Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon leading the way, as Gordon had 16 points and MPJ had 25. It was an off night for the Heat stars as well. 

Jimmy Butler had just 15 points on 6/16 shooting. Bam Adebayo was the high man but had just 17 points. As a team, the Heat shot just 5/21 from behind the three-point line.

Defending conference champs trending in opposite directions

With the win, the Nuggets moved a half-game in front of the Oklahoma City Thunder and took over the outright lead in the Western Conference. They’ve won ten out of eleven games since the All-Star break and will now head on the road for a three-game trip with games at San Antonio, Dallas, and Minnesota.

The Heat, meanwhile, have now dropped four games in a row and fallen to 35-30 on the year. They’re currently the eighth seed in the East and their lead over the ninth-place Bulls has shrunk to just three and a half games.