The Miami Heat tied the 2023 NBA Finals with a 111-108 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 on Sunday night.
Miami fought back from 15 points down in Denver after seeing its early lead evaporate in the second quarter.
“Our guys love to compete,” Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra told the media after the win. “They love to put themselves out there in those moments of truth, and fortunately, we were able to make a lot of big defensive plays down the stretch, and then we got a lot of contributions which you’re going to need against a team like this.”
Denver used a late first-quarter run and a 34-25 second-quarter advantage, which included a 15-point lead with just over five minutes left in the half, to build a six-point halftime lead.
However, Miami was able to cut the deficit to eight by the end of the third and took an 86-85 lead on a Gabe Vincent three-pointer less than two minutes into the fourth as part of a 13-2 run. Vincent led the Heat with 23 points on 8-12 shooting to earn his fifth 20-point postseason game.
“He’s like a lot of our guys [with] the competitive spirit, and to get challenged like we’re getting challenged in this series, you hope it brings out the best in you,” Spoelstra said when asked about Vincent. “And that’s what it’s doing for him.”
Miami worked its lead up to 12 points with under four minutes left in the game, but Denver would not go away quietly as Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic kept their team alive.
The Nuggets got within three points twice in the final minute. After Jimmy Butler missed a three-pointer that would have sealed the game for Miami, Denver snatched the defensive rebound and had a chance to tie.
Denver elected not to call a timeout, and Miami decided not to foul to avoid a game-tying shot attempt, as Murray’s three-pointer
rolled off the rim and into the hands of Caleb Martin as time expired.
“With how well they were guarding that quarter and how hard it was for us to generate great looks, I felt, in that transition, we were going to have the best chance to get the look that we wanted,” Denver Coach Michael Malone explained after the game.
Miami hands Denver its first home loss this postseason and ties the series 1-1 as it moves to Miami for Game 3 at 7:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday.