Michael Malone will have plenty to discuss with his Denver Nuggets players between their 111-108 home loss in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday to the Miami Heat and Game 3 on Wednesday in South Beach. Malone understandably is incredibly frustrated with the outcome of Game 2, particularly with the quality of effort his players showed in the loss.

“Let's talk about effort. This is NBA Finals, we are talking about effort; that's a huge concern of mine,” Malone said during the postgame press conference after the Nuggets' first home loss in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. “You guys probably thought I was just making up some storyline after Game 1 when I said we didn't play well. We didn't play well, Malone added.

The Heat were smoking right out of the gate in the first period of Game 2, with Max Strus nailing four 3-pointers after shooting a ton of bricks in the series opener, thus helping Miami take a 3-point lead at the end of the first quarter. Denver recovered in the second period and even established a 15-point lead. But the Nuggets simply could not sustain the level of effort Malone was demanding his players to have in the NBA Finals.

“Tonight, the starting lineup to start the game, it was 10-2 Miami. Start of the third quarter, they scored 11 points in two minutes and 10 seconds. We had guys out there that were just whether feeling sorry for themselves for not making shots or thinking they can just turn it on or off, this is not the preseason, this is not the regular season. This is the NBA Finals. That to me is really, really perplexing, disappointing.”

Malone hope that the Nuggets ‘setback in Game 2 will only serve as a wakeup call for his team heading into Game 3 of the 2023 NBA Finals on Wednesday.