It is not easy to get to the NBA Finals and it is even harder to win a game in the Finals. The Denver Nuggets learned this lesson in Game 2 when the Miami Heat handed them their first home loss in the playoffs this year.
We are now all knotted up at 1-1 with things heading to Miami for Game 3 of the Finals, a game that will give the winner all momentum in this championship series. Ahead of Wednesday's pivotal game, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone spoke to the media on Tuesday about his approach and what the plan for his team is coming off of their loss.
“What I can do is try to help our guys defensively because when we get stops and we get out and run, we've had control of the first three quarters two games in a row,” Malone said. “And offensively, just kind of giving our guys as many ways that they can attack that zone as possible where we can be effective and at least produce the right shot.”
"What I can do is try to help our guys defensively… Trying to make sure we're producing the right shots against that zone which has given us some trouble in that 4th quarter."
Michael Malone on the Nuggets' game plan heading into Game 3 vs. the Heat.
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) June 6, 2023
The Nuggets have struggled at times offensively in this series against Miami's zone defense and Malone recognized that a lot of this is due to the fact that his team is walking the ball up the floor. Playing with more urgency and not waiting until the final few seconds of the shot-clock to initiate their offense will open the door for Denver to find more scoring success, which is something Malone alluded to as well.
The game plan for the Nuggets appears very clear, as their head coach wants high percentage shot selection and alertness when attacking Miami's zone, especially in the fourth quarter.
“Whether we make it or not, that's going to be on our players,” Malone continued. “But trying to make sure we're producing the right shots against that zone, which has given us some trouble in the fourth quarter.”
Denver has built a fantastic culture through the years and what makes them a championship contender is the fact that they are all on the same page. Unlike other teams who disagree and try to dish out the blame following a loss, the Nuggets hold everyone responsible for their mistakes and Malone talked about how his team has learned from their Game 2 defeat.
“We had a really good film session this morning,” Malone said with confidence. “I gave an opportunity for everybody on our team to speak and talk about what they saw on the film. It was a very honest conversation. Guys owned what they needed to own. We have to learn from Game 2 to use it to our advantage, to your point.
“I have no doubt that tomorrow night will be a much more disciplined, urgent team for 48 minutes.”
While losing Game 2 was not ideal for the Nuggets, they have a chance to take the momentum in this series back with a road win on Wednesday night in Game 3.