March 4, 2024

NBA Finals – Defense, Herro and… Team: Miami’s plan to stop Jokic


The Serb’s magic decided Game 1, coach Spoelstra will try to stop him in Monday night’s game: “The plans won’t save us, but the collective attitude”

Denver fans, eagerly awaiting the arrival of their first Finals in history after the Lakers’ long post-sweep hiatus, could not ask for more from Game 1. A clear dominance and a clear show of superiority, apart from the fourth third dip and a result now in jeopardy, for the Nuggets, who are able to spin the Heat’s defense and not suffer too much, not even that feared zone trainer Spoelstra.

The key

With an MVP version of Jokic playing the assistant role in the first half and playing in the second half when Denver needed him, Miami had to fly the white flag. The Nuggets’ ability to use their centimeters, but above all the disparities, thanks in particular to the Serbian readings, immediately steered the game into the lane favored by coach Malone’s squad. So the first to strike was an excellent Gordon, able to score twelve points in the first eight minutes and then pass the baton to Murray without the Miami defense finding any answers, not even with the zone could.

The teacher

If the conductor Jokic, with his usual altruism, thinks about setting the pace for his teammates without ever forcing it, and arrives at the break with only three conclusions on the score sheet (three baskets) and 10 assists, then the mountain to which it is turned climb to a tourmalet for the Heat, who instead fired shots from the perimeter for most of the game, especially with three reliable snipers like Strus, Martin and Robinson (2/23 total shots). “Jokic is like that,” stresses Michael Malone, “he never forces anything and takes what the defense gives him.” He reads the game like no other, always does the right thing and, most importantly, creates it to get the best out of your teammates. He got 10 assists in the first half, then in the last quarter when we got into the bonus early he decided to attack the basket.”

The countermeasures

While Adebayo has made his mark on offense, limiting the two-time MVP seems like a really complicated task for Miami. Not even the zone, which had greatly annoyed the Celtics, is served as Jokic always finds the right pass. “It’s useless to think that plans can save us,” warns Erick Spoelstra. What can help us is the collective attitude. In the second half we did better defensively, we’ll be a good team if we play with the right approach, regardless of the schemes.” Aside from the shooting problems of the players who have proved reliable this postseason, something However, which could also be described as “a bad night” left Miami feeling powerless in the face of Denver’s attack, which every time he needed a basket, he built it and he found it, thanks to excellent ball movement and the readings of its center. “I didn’t force anything,” says Nikola Jokic, “I try never to do it, I take what the opposing defense gives me.” Miami has to change registers in the second race (Monday Italian night) and of course by far Finding distances constancy. Coach Spo may finally find Herro on Sunday, who gave good pointers after his practice in the first game before the game. However, the Heat need to find defensive adjustments to Nikola Jokic’s domain. Not an easy deal.

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