Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat host two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets for Game 4 of the 2023 NBA Finals on Friday night. The Nuggets have a 2-1 series lead after they picked up a Game 3 win on the road and are looking to take a commanding 3-1 lead. Teams are 35-1 in the NBA Finals when holding that advantage.
Denver is making its first Finals appearance, while Miami is playing in the franchise’s seventh appearance and its first since the 2020 bubble season.
USA TODAY Sports will bring you the latest news, updates, analysis and more throughout Game 4. Follow along.
MIAMI — Forward Aaron Gordon’s offense sparked a 35-30 second quarter for the Nuggets. He scored eight of Denver’s first 10 points in the quarter and had 15 of his 16 points in the second. It was a return to Denver’s Game 1 plan when it wanted Gordon to take advantage of his size mismatch against the Heat.
Nikola Jokic added 16 points (10 in the second quarter), five rebounds and two assists, Michael Porter Jr. had seven points and Jamal Murray had six points and four assists in the first half for Denver.
The Nuggets made seven 3-pointers in the first half — two more than they made in all four quarters of Game 3.
Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 14 points, five assists and three rebounds, and Kyle Lowry and Bam Adebayo contributed 13 and 12 points, respectively. Miami shot 52.6% from the field but just 33.3% on 3s.
“It’s going to come down to our ability to guard the 3-point line,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said before Game 4. “To me, that’s where the series will be won or lost. Can we take away the 3-point shot? The one game that we did not do that, obviously, Game 2, they made 17 threes. That opens up everything else for them.”
— Jeff Zillgitt
Jokic returned to the bench from the locker room, where he got his right ankle re-taped after landing awkwardly on Max Strus’ foot while jumping for a rebound.
He was visibly limping and received treatment on the bench, before going back to the locker room following the first quarter. Jokic checked back into the game with 7:50 remaining in the second quarter and assured every one that he is OK after knocking down a 27-foot three to give the Nuggets a 33-30 lead. He has nine points and three rebounds.
Jimmy Butler drained a 3-pointer to give the Heat a one-point lead to close the first quarter. Miami is shooting 50% from the field and Butler has a team-high nine points, but the Heat can take better care of the ball. Miami registered five first-quarter turnovers, more than they committed across the entire Game 3 (four turnovers).
The Nuggets struggled from the field, shooting 31.6%. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray both scored six points and are both playing through minor injuries – a tweaked ankle for Jokic and floor burn for Murray.
Jokic went back to the locker room after the first quarter but returned to the bench, where he appeared to be receiving further treatment early in the second quarter.
Nikola Jokic limping after tweaking ankle
The Nuggets’ two-time MVP appeared to twist his right ankle after landing on Max Strus’ foot while rebounding his own shot. Jokic limped back up the court afterward and stopped to tighten the laces on his right shoe.
Jamal Murray playing through floor burn on hand
Murray suffered a floor burn on his left hand, his non-shooting hand, while diving for a loose ball in Game 3. He is sporting a black wrap over the burn to start Game 4.
Who sang the NBA Finals Game 4 national anthem?
Miami native Laurana Strachan sang the anthem tonight.
Only one team has come back from 3-1 deficit in NBA Finals
History is on the side of the Denver Nuggets if they can win Game 4 tonight and take a 3-1 series lead. In NBA’s history, the team that has been up 3-1 in any series has a record of 267-13. The numbers get even slimmer at this stage in the playoffs.
Teams are 35-1 in the NBA Finals when holding that advantage. The Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 became the only team to come back and win an NBA Finals series when down 3-1.
Miami Heat fans fashionably late to Game 4
Heat fans have a reputation of being a late-arriving crowd to games during the regular season, and that habit appears to hold true during the NBA Finals, too. Before Game 4 on Friday night, the Heat’s arena had just as many empty seats waiting to be filled than filled ones roughly 20 minutes before tipoff.
Something to monitor as the Heat could use the boost from their home crowd, down 2-1 in the finals to the Nuggets.
Heat’s Jimmy Butler on Game 4 of NBA Finals: ‘I expect to win’
MIAMI — It might not be an outlandish guarantee by any means. Just some cool, collected confidence from Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler.
“Obviously, I expect to win,” Butler said Thursday before Friday’s Game 4 of the NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets. “We’re going to come out with a lot more energy and we’re going to get one at home.”
The Heat know what’s at stake. — Safid Deen
NBA Finals starting lineup today
The Heat are sticking with the same lineup as Game 3:
- PG Gabe Vincent
- SG Max Strus
- SF Jimmy Butler
- PF Kevin Love
- C Bam Adebayo
The Nuggets are also keeping the same lineup as Game 3:
- PG Jamal Murray
- SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
- SF Michael Porter Jr.
- PF Aaron Gordon
- C Nikola Jokic
NBA Finals Game 4 referees
Crew chief Scott Foster, referee James Williams, umpire Bill Kennedy and alternate Ben Taylor are the officials for Game 4.
Bruce Brown stats
Bruce Brown is averaging 8.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.7 assists in the 2023 NBA Finals. Over 18 games this postseason, Brown is averaging 11.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
NBA Finals uniform schedule for Heat and Nuggets
Here is which uniform each team will wear for Game 4, via the NBA’s LockerVision:
Chris Tucker called Adam Silver for courtside seats to Game 4
The comedian and actor will be front and center at Game 4 in Miami Friday thanks to the NBA commissioner. Tucker said he went through his rolodex of A-list contacts to secure the coveted courtside tickets at Kaseya Center.
“It is easy. I asked everybody man. I don’t want to name no names, but um, Adam Silver gave me some tickets,” Tucker said during ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” broadcast. “I called everybody for these tickets. I got front row tonight, so I hope (the Heat) win.”
Erik Spoelstra wants tickets to see Lionel Messi… so does everyone else
About two hours before Game 4, an international reporter asked Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who coached LeBron James, what’s it like having the most well-known player in the world join a team, referencing soccer’s Lionel Messi decision to join MLS’ Inter Miami CF.
“My two sons are just starting to get into soccer … football,” Spoelstra said, a nod to global recognition of the sport. “So, hopefully we can get a ticket and hopefully I can take them to some games.”
Spoelstra needn’t worry. He will not have a problem getting tickets to see Messi and Inter Miami.
What is Tyler Herro’s status: Is he playing in Game 4?
Miami Heat’s Tyler Herro (hand) has been ruled out for Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked what is preventing Herro from being medically cleared to play after breaking his right hand in April.
“He just started this process while we were in Denver. So it’s one thing to be able to go through all of this. It’s another thing to be cleared to play an NBA Finals game,” Spoelstra said Friday ahead of Game 4. “Taking it one step at a time, and we are all really encouraged by the progress.”
NBA Finals TV schedule 2023
Here is the full schedule:
NBA Finals Game 4 betting odds
Tipico Sportsbook has the spread favoring Denver by 3.5 points over Miami. They have the moneyline for Miami set at +140 and for Denver set at –160. They have the over/under for total points set at 214.5.
NBA Finals Game 4 predictions: Nuggets or Heat?
USA TODAY Sports experts offer their picks for Game 4:
Jeff Zillgitt: Nuggets 107, Heat 100: While Miami will play better in Game 4, Denver is getting closer to the franchise’s first title, sensing the moment and ready to return home for a chance to close out the Finals. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray once again help the Nuggets get the victory and a 3-1 series lead.
Safid Deen: Heat 113, Nuggets 109: “Playoff Jimmy” Butler makes his mark slowing down Jamal Murray, while the Heat’s role players find their shooting touch to win a close one at home.
How Nuggets rookie Christian Braun helped power NBA Finals Game 3 win
Denver Nuggets rookie reserve Christian Braun had six points through the first two games of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. He more than doubled his point production Wednesday.
He had 11 of his 15 points in Game 3 in the second half of Denver’s 109-94 victory, helping push the Nuggets to a 2-1 series lead.
“My job is just to be ready when my name is called,” Braun said. “Playing with Nikola (Jokic), playing with Jamal (Murray), whoever it is, just got to be ready for the ball, and today they found me in some pretty easy spots. … it’s the NBA Finals, so if your name is called, you know you’ve got to be ready.” — Jeff Zillgitt
Happy birthday Udonis Haslem, Nikola Jovic!
Miami Heat teammates Udonis Haslem, the oldest person in the 2023 NBA Finals at age 43, and Nikola Jovic, the youngest person in the NBA Finals at age 20, share the same birthday on Friday, which happens to be the day of Game 4.
“Niko, what’s up, it’s OG. Wanted to wish you a happy 12th birthday… I mean… You are turning 20,” Haslem said in a message to Jovic. “I don’t remember what I was doing at 19 or 20, but I definitely wasn’t making millions of dollars, so congratulations. I definitely wasn’t in the Finals, so congratulations. Enjoy your day my brother.”
Jovic, not to be confused with the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic, told Haslem: “Happy birthday UD. I know we share the same birthday. It means a lot to me, especially because you are the oldest guy here and I’m the youngest. You are a vet, you helped me a lot this year. I hope we are going to win this (championship).”
Jovic was born on June 9, 2003. Haslem made his NBA debut for the Heat nearly two months later on Aug. 6, 2003.
Nikola Jokic stats
The two-time league MVP is averaging a triple-double this postseason: 30.5 points, 13.4 rebounds and 10.1 assists per game.
Jimmy Butler stats
Through 20 playoff games, Butler is averaging 27.3 points on 47.4% shooting, including 35.7% from 3. He’s also grabbing 6.6 rebounds, dishing out 5.9 assists and snagging 1.8 steals per game.
Over 64 regular-season games, Butler averaged 22.9 points on 53.9% shooting (35% from 3), 5.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
Aaron Gordon stats
In 18 postseason games so far, the 6-foot-8 Nuggets forward is averaging 13 points on 51.1% shooting, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Gordon averaged 16.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3 assists across 68 regular-season games.
Bam Adebayo stats
Over 21 games this postseason, the Heat big man is averaging 17.7 points on 49.7% shooting, 9.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.
In 75 regular-season games this year, the 25-year-old averaged 20.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
Jamal Murray stats
Over 18 games this postseason, the Nuggets guard is averaging 27.4 points on 48.4% shooting (39.6% from 3), 5.7 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game. In 65 regular-season games this season, the 26-year-old averaged 20 points on 45.4% shooting (39.8% from 3), 4 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game.
NBA Finals winners
Here are the NBA champions of the last 25 years:
- 2022: Golden State Warriors
- 2021: Milwaukee Bucks
- 2020: Los Angeles Lakers
- 2019: Toronto Raptors
- 2018: Golden State Warriors
- 2017: Golden State Warriors
- 2016: Cleveland Cavaliers
- 2015: Golden State Warriors
- 2014: San Antonio Spurs
- 2013: Miami Heat
- 2012: Miami Heat
- 2011: Dallas Mavericks
- 2010: Los Angeles Lakers
- 2009: Los Angeles Lakers
- 2008: Boston Celtics
- 2007: San Antonio Spurs
- 2006: Miami Heat
- 2005: San Antonio Spurs
- 2004: Detroit Pistons
- 2003: San Antonion Spurs
- 2002: Los Angeles Lakers
- 2001: Los Angeles Lakers
- 2000: Los Angeles Lakers
- 1999: San Antonion Spurs
- 1998: Chicago Bulls