DENVER (AP) — Miami could blame it on fatigue, or that much-talked-about Mile High elevation. Or maybe this was just one of those nights.
Whatever the reason, the Heat had plenty of open looks in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday but couldn’t knock them down during a 104-93 loss to the Denver Nuggets.
“When you look at it during the game, they all look like the right shots and I’m not saying that we can’t as a team make those, but we’ve got to get more layups,” said Jimmy Butler, who had 13 points. “That’s it as a whole. We’ve got to attack the rim a lot more, myself included.”
The stat lines were hard to fathom: Max Strus, 0 for 10. Duncan Robinson, 1 of 6. Even Caleb Martin, who had a stellar showing in the Eastern Conference finals, wasn’t immune. He finished 1 of 7.
Coach Erik Spoelstra won’t be saying much other than possibly this: Don’t read too much into it.
Just one night.
“We also have ignitable guys. You see a couple go through and that also can become an avalanche,” Spoelstra said. “One way or the other, we have to find a way to get the job done.”
This was far from a shooting clinic for the Heat. They did make a flurry of shots in the fourth quarter to show what they can do and make the numbers a little prettier (40.6% from the floor) than they might have been.
Then again, the Nuggets felt they had a little something to do with Miami’s wayward aim.
“Our guys did a great job of defending without fouling,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.
Denver committed just eight fouls total, resulting in only one trip to the line by Haywood Highsmith, who made both.
It tied for the fewest free throws made in a playoff game, broke the record for fewest attempts from the line in a playoff game and set an NBA Finals records for fewest free throws made and attempted.
“I didn’t even realize it was two free throws only, and it was only my two free throws,” Highsmith said. “So that was pretty interesting. I think we were aggressive, but we did shoot a lot of jump shots because we were open.
“It’s weird having two free throws. I’ve never seen that before.”
Added Bam Adebayo: “We made history.”
“I mean, when we got in the locker room and (saw) the stat sheet,” Adebayo said, “I feel like we were all shocked that we only had two free throws.”
In this make-or-miss league, quite a few of the Heat struggled to get into any sort of rhythm through three quarters.
Sometimes, shots just don’t fall. The Heat advanced to the Finals because of Boston’s ineffectiveness from the outside in Game 7, when the Celtics were 9 of 42.
On Thursday in Denver, the Heat got a small taste of what it felt like.
“I just feel like we took a lot of jump shots, and we missed a lot of them,” Adebayo said. “We’re going to watch film and get back to the drawing board.”