Denver—Miami star Jimmy Butler called on his team-mates to match Denver’s physicality after the Nuggets overpowered the Heat to win game one of the NBA Finals on Thursday.
A Denver side inspired by the towering figure of Nikola Jokic proved too strong for Miami, leading almost from start to finish at the Ball Arena to clinch a 104-93 victory.
Jokic later said Denver had been determined to land the “first punch” of the series, and Butler admitted Miami would need to up their physicality over the rest of the series.
“They came out with a lot of physicality, and we have to be able to match that,” Butler said.
“They did their job on their home floor, you have to say that, but we will be ready.
“We will adjust, and we will do some things very differently and come out here and be ready to give more for game two.”
Miami trailed by as many as 24 points in the third quarter before closing the gap in the fourth.
Butler maintained that Miami’s performance would “look way worse than it really is” when the team pores over footage of game one ahead of game two on Sunday.
“But that’s the only way you’re going to learn from it,” said Butler, who was restricted to just 13 points from 6-of-14 shooting in a subdued performance.
Butler, who made no trips to the foul line throughout, vowed to take a more aggressive approach in game two on Sunday when Miami try to square the series.
“Maybe I have to be a little bit more aggressive,” he said. “I’ve got to put pressure on the rim. Me with no free throws, that was all on myself, nobody else.
“So we’ll definitely correct that the next game, but only I can do that.”