In his postgame presser after the Blazers tied the series at 2-2, Malone highlighted his shock and disappointment that they didn't play hard enough. To make matters worse, it's the playoffs where playing with high intensity should be a normal thing to do.
Unfortunately, the Nuggets didn't even show any fight at all and gave up early–with Malone even saying that some of his players were “scared” and played “tentative” and “soft.”
“I can’t believe we’re even talking about playing hard in a playoff game,” the Nuggets coach said in disbelief, per Mike Singer of Denver Post.
For what it's worth, there are no lies in Michael Malone's statement. While it seemed harsh, the Nuggets just couldn't give away such morale-boosting victories in the playoffs. After all, it could very well shift the momentum to the other side.
Nikola Jokic was severely limited in Game 4, finishing with only 16 points on 7-of-18 shooting. However, he was not the only one who played poorly in the contest, with Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon combining for just nine points as they were unable to go through the physical Blazers defense.
The Nuggets will be happy to have homecourt advantage next as the series returns to Denver. Hopefully, the crowd rallies them up to play harder and the exact opposite of what they showed on Saturday night.