The Denver Nuggets want to have their get-back against the Phoenix Suns. But they are not using it as a rallying cry.
Two years ago, the Suns swept the Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals en route to their 2021 NBA Finals appearance. Phoenix beat a shorthanded Denver team without Jamal Murray, who was a star in the team’s 2020 run to the Western Conference Finals.
Nuggets coach Mike Malone, who led the team against the Suns two years ago, downplayed a motivation of revenge in this year’s Western Conference semifinal series to ‘9News’ reporter Jacob Tobey Monday afternoon.
"No, we're not using a rally cry." I asked #Nuggets HC Michael Malone about the idea of revenge. Denver was swept by Phoenix in the playoffs 2 years ago #9sports pic.twitter.com/iQhRoODBTh
— Jacob Tobey (@JacobRTobey) April 28, 2023
“It’s two years ago, seems like a lifetime ago,” Malone said. “We have so many new players on our team that weren’t here for that series, and we’re a different team. Aside from the new players, having Jamal Murray healthy. So, we’re not using a ‘rally cry,’ revenge against the Suns. This is a new year, new series. This is about us trying to win a championship.”
The Suns are the odds-on favorite to win the Western Conference by FanDuel. Denver is not expected to win this series by the site but is a 2.5-point favorite for Game 1 Saturday at Ball Arena.
Phoenix is expected to have a personnel advantage with guards Chris Paul and Devin Booker, the latter of whom is averaging the most points in the postseason (37.5 per game), and forward Kevin Durant, who this season became the first player in NBA history to shoot 55 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line.
The Nuggets two-time MVP center Nikola Jokic, was asked how to defend the Suns in the pick-and-roll and joked his team should “pray.”
Game 1 will tip off at 5:30 p.m. PT Saturday on TNT.