The Denver Nuggets’ 109-94 victory on the road Wednesday night against the Miami Heat may one day be remembered as the game that effectively ended the series. Though Miami still has a puncher’s chance, the team seems to have finally discovered a superior heavyweight.

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is not the first star this Heat team has faced in its Cinderella run to the Finals, but he may be the first one to render them stymied. In three games, including a hard-fought Miami win in Game 2, Jokic is nearly averaging a triple-double with 33.3 points, 14 rebounds and 9.3 assists per night.

While Miami has struggled to contain Denver’s main threat, other Nuggets players have found opportunities as well. In addition to Jokic’s Game 3 triple-double, teammate Jamal Murray earned on of his own with a team-leading 34 points.

Heat star Jimmy Butler, who scored 28 points of his own to continue a stellar postseason, attributed his team’s loss to a lack of initiative.

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“We feel great. We didn’t play our best. I feel like we just got to come out with more energy and effort, and that’s correctible,” Butler said.

But while Butler’s statement may be true, it does not address the issue that two Nuggets players combined forces to score 66 points on the road. Jokic, in particular, has been a headache for Miami all series, as head coach Erik Spoelstra inadvertently revealed when he lashed out at an ESPN reporter for asking a question about containing the Nuggets star.

In order for the Heat to win Game 2, the team required stellar performances from several role players, namely Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Duncan Robinson. Beyond Butler and Bam Adebayo, however, there are no consistent performers on Miami’s roster to combat Denver’s defense. Even on a night when everyone stepped up, the Heat only won by three. The other two games have ended in decisive defeat.

Sometimes, the lack of a satisfactory explanation is simply the result of a harsher truth. In this case, it’s inescapable that the Nuggets are simply better than the Heat. Miami players will not, and probably should not, acknowledge this as they take the floor in future games, but it may only become more evident as the series carries on.

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