The Denver Nuggets found a way in Game 3, winning 109-94 to defeat the Miami Heat and take a 2-1 series lead in the NBA Finals.

Nikola Jokić was unbelievable, notching 32 points, 21 rebounds, and 10 assists, the first 30-20-10 game in NBA Finals history. His touch around the rim was sublime, and his overall level of impact in holding the Heat to just 94 points on their home floor cannot be overstated. This was some of the best defense of Jokić’s career, and it came in the most important moment of his career on the road in a hostile environment.

Jamal Murray was also unbelievable, notching 34 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. His shooting in the first half gave the Nuggets the energy they needed to keep a first half lead, and Murray’s all-around performance was absolutely essential for Denver on both ends of the floor.

Murray and Jokić became the first teammates to post 30-point triple-doubles in NBA Finals history. Their ability to consistently complement each other has propelled the Nuggets franchise to new heights, and their levels of competitiveness and poise have the Nuggets on the doorstep of franchise history.

Christian Braun also put up 15 points off the bench in 19 minutes, an impressive 7-of-8 shooting from the field primarily off of cuts and transition play. Braun made all of the plays he needed to and showed the poise of a playoff tested veteran, not a rookie.

It was an incredible night in South Beach.

Here are my takeaways from the Nuggets matchup with the Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals:

Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokić absolutely brought it

The Nuggets entered Game 3 hoping to play great team basketball, or at least that was the intention. Unfortunately, all three of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., and Aaron Gordon struggled to get going. At half, the trio had just six points on 3-of-12 from the field, including several open shots within the flow of the offense.

So, Murray and Jokić had to go into hero mode, and they sustained Denver for awhile. Murray had 20 points by halftime on 8-of-13 from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range, including some important shots to stymie Heat runs. Murray also had four assists, mostly to Jokić, who nearly put up a first half triple-double with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists.

In the second half, it was a more aggressive Jokić, finding opportunities to create shots in the paint over Bam Adebayo. Jokić’s touch around the rim was ridiculous. He even left some points on the table but was still making some impressive baskets while punishing switches. Still, he found a way to accumulate a 30-20-10 game in the NBA Finals, the first of its kind in NBA history.

Murray was less of a scorer in the second half but found some assist opportunities to Jokić and others. He made the clutch shots he needed to in the first half, then helped ice the game with free throws and the occasional bucket late. It was a masterclass of Murray and Jokić working in a symbiotic relationship, pulling and pushing on the aggressiveness meter that teeters between them during a game.

Ultimately, Murray finished with 34 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds, grabbing that final rebound right before the buzzer sounded. it was the culmination of a great evening for the Nuggets. Murray may have had seven turnovers tonight, but who cares? He made up for it on the defensive end and in plenty of other ways.

Christian Braun changed the game

With Denver still trying to figure out who to play with their starters struggling, they found a lineup with Murray and Jokić on the floor featuring the three bench guys: Bruce Brown, Jeff Green, and Christian Braun. With Brown and Green, it’s not a surprise as the two veterans out there. With Braun, you’re not sure what you’re going to get.

So that’s why it was such a big deal that Braun made every important play in the second half.

Braun spent much of the game spacing the floor for Jokić and Murray, but that meant a different role than most spacers. Instead of spreading the floor at the three-point line, Braun was a consistent cutter to open space, ripping apart the Heat zone and help scheme over and over again. He made every single two-pointer he attempted, and they were all around the rim. Some of his shots were contested too, and he just finished anyway.

The Heat attacked Braun, dared him to hold up at the NBA Finals level. It was a good idea since Braun had struggled to make a consistent impact since the second round, but this time, Braun made the Heat pay. He shot 7-of-7 on two-point baskets, concerting an And-1 opportunity, grabbing four rebounds, and adding a steal. It was a masterful performance from the rookie, and it gave the Nuggets the lift they needed outside of Jokić and Murray.

Michael Porter Jr. scoring struggles continue

It’s clear that Michael Porter Jr. is going through it offensively. He’s trying to find ways to impact the game and take some pressure off of Jokić and Murray, but nothing really went in for him. He had an impressive layup around the rim off a Jokić dime, but he didn’t hit a jumper all night. Overall, he finished with just two points and zero assists in 22 minutes, shooting 1-of-7 from the field and 0-of-2 from three.

The defense was a bit better. He found ways to contest shots on the perimeter, and the few times he switched onto Jimmy Butler, he did a solid job walling off the paint and making things difficult for the Heat star. Porter also grabbed seven rebounds in 22 minutes, which is an impressive tally seeing as he had one teammate grab 20+ rebounds and two separate teammates grab 10.

Still, Porter’s value can’t be contained to simply rebounding well. The 6’10” forward has to find other ways to impact the game during the rest of this series. Christian Braun picked him up tonight, but that likely won’t continue. Porter has to pick himself up going forward, or else the Heat are going to be able to key in more strongly on Jokić and Murray.

The Nuggets know that it’s not one more game they need to get to be NBA champions. It’s two.

Denver did a great job of getting back Miami in Game 3 for the loss Denver sustained in Game 2. The Nuggets did what they absolutely had to do, because if the series went back to Denver with the Nuggets facing a 3-1 deficit, it would have been almost insurmountable. Instead, the Nuggets have an opportunity to go UP 3-1 if they can grab another win in Game 4.

Whether the Nuggets can make that happen remains to be seen. The Heat scored just 94 points in Game 3 and didn’t shoot well. That should change in Game 4 after they adjust to the adjustments Denver made tonight.

Still, a great, great win for Denver, one of the most important wins they’ve ever had as a franchise. Two more wins until glory.