Former NBA Coach of the Year George Karl firmly believes the Denver Nuggets could have sent Game 2 against the Miami Heat to overtime had Michael Malone not made a crucial mistake late in the contest.
The Heat beat the Nuggets 111-108 on Sunday to tie the series at 1-1. Miami was trailing Denver by eight points heading to the fourth quarter, but Jimmy Butler, Duncan Robinson and the rest of the team took over to turn the tables around and take the lead. However, Denver had one final shot to extend the game after Nikola Jokic made it a 111-018 game with a floater and Butler missed a game-sealing triple with 14.6 seconds left.
Bruce Brown got the rebound, giving the Nuggets one last possession in a bid to at least force overtime. Nonetheless, Malone opted not to call a timeout and instead let his team play, with Jamal Murray eventually taking a triple that missed.
For Karl, Malone should have called a timeout at that point. Not only do they have plenty of time left, but considering that his Nuggets were lacking confidence after struggling for much of the game, it would have been the right call … at least for him.
“If I'm Coach Malone, I call a TO at the end. His team wasn't playing with enough confidence at that moment. I always pushed it down by 2. Not usually when down 3,” Karl explained.
While George Karl makes a good point, especially since the Nuggets were behind by three and actually had just one option (which is to shoot a triple), calling a timeout to set up a play would have been beneficial.
However, several fans disagree with Karl, with many noting that Murray and the Nuggets thrive in such situations.
“You ever coach Jamal Murray tho? He’s awesome in that situation. Would love to see data to prove it, but certainly by eye test,” one critic commented.
Another fan said, “A DEN Timeout would likely equal a Heat Foul before any shot attempt.” A third commenter had the same sentiment, saying: “If Denver calls time out then 100% Miami sets up to just foul before the 3 no coach???”
George Karl did have some who supported his take, though in the end, Michael Malone simply made a call that he thought was best for the Nuggets. Unfortunately, it didn't work and they lost.
Hopefully, Malone will be able to steer his Nuggets back to the win column as the NBA Finals series shifts to Miami.