The Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat square off tonight in game two of the NBA Finals. Denver held home-court advantage in game one, breaking Miami’s streak of winning the first game of each series this playoffs. With game two on the horizon, who is set up to succeed tonight?
NBA Finals: Game Two Prediction
How the Miami Heat Can Win Game Two
Erik Spoelstra will undoubtedly have the Heat ready to play tonight. Arguably one of the best coaches in the league, Spoelstra has helped this team bounce back from a near-catastrophic collapse in the Eastern Conference Finals to dominate the Boston Celtics in Boston in Game Seven. He must develop a defensive game plan that can limit Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Many knew that Jokic would be a problem for the Heat defense, but Murray has been nearly unguardable this postseason. When the Heat switched to a zone in Game One, Denver could counter it with relative ease. Miami will need Bam Adebayo to step up on the defensive end, but matchup adjustments must be made to win this game.
On offense, the Heat need to attack the rim much more frequently in Game Two. It is unbelievable and frankly unacceptable for a team in the NBA Finals to attempt only two free throws all night. The officiating in the NBA has come under scrutiny of late, but Miami won’t get any calls settling for jump shots. When the Heat made their fourth-quarter run, it was from driving to the rim. Adebayo played offensively well, but Miami will need Jimmy Butler to be more aggressive this time.
Haywood Highsmith was also essential to that run, hitting some clutch jumpers. Max Strus and Caleb Martin must show up for Game Two. They shot a combined 1-17 in Game One. The good news for Miami is that it is unlikely that these two and Duncan Robinson will shoot this poorly all series.
How the Denver Nuggets Can Win Game Two
If it isn’t broken, why fix it? Denver had the benefit of many days off before the Finals began. Jokic and Murray have been unstoppable. Their ability to play a two-man game regardless of who the ballhandler is is something other teams in the league don’t have. Aaron Gordon showed another mismatch in Game One, posting up whichever defender Miami threw his way. Gordon got the Nuggets rolling early, and if he can continue that in Game Two, Denver will be tough to beat.
Michael Porter Jr. struggled mightily from three in the first game, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope didn’t have much of a role in the offense. Porter Jr. was wide open far too often for the Heat to expect him to stay cold. Bruce Brown was the sole reserve that contributed offensively. Although it wasn’t needed in Game One, Mike Malone will look to get more out of that group in the future.
NBA Finals: Game Two Prediction
Malone has done a great job keeping his team prepared while awaiting this matchup. When the Heat went to a zone, Denver was ready for it. The head coaching battle in this series is the best we’ve seen this postseason. We should expect the early games of this series to feel like a prize fight. Punch, counterpunch, strike, and move. Both coaches will make in-game adjustments to set their team up for success.
Ultimately, Game Two comes down to a few key factors. The Nuggets have the better offensive team, are taller at nearly every position, and are playing in front of a home crowd that has watched them win over 40 times this year. Miami will look much better than in Game One, but the Denver Nuggets will be too much for them at home.
Don’t fret, Heat fans. Remember, a series doesn’t start until the home team loses a game.