With the Nuggets looking to maintain momentum in the NBA Finals, coach Michael Malone spoke Saturday about the stern message he delivered to his team in the aftermath of Thursday’s Game 1 victory.
The Nuggets’ 104–93 win over the Heat seemingly confirmed what many believed about the heavily-favored’s team advantage over its Eastern Conference counterpart, with some going as far as declaring the series as over after just one game.
As Denver eyes nabbing a 2–0 lead over Miami on Sunday, Malone told reporters he warned Nuggets players to stay focused on the goal and avoid the pitfalls of listening to outside noise.
“I told our players today, don’t read the paper,” Malone said. “Don’t listen to the folks on the radio and TV saying that this series is over and that we’ve done something, because we haven’t done a damn thing.”
Similar to what he’s said throughout the playoffs, Malone re-iterating the fact that his team, despite their playoff success, has yet to accomplish anything substantial is par for the course given what’s at stake.
In keeping with the idea of sticking to the gameplan, Malone also offered a blunt assessment of his team’s Game 1 performance. As is often the case with coaches, Malone harped on Denver’s mistakes, and flat out told the media he believes the team didn’t play well despite coming away with a double-digit home win.
“I don’t think we played well in Game 1,” he said, per ESPN. “I watched that tape, and they were 5-of-16 on wide-open 3’s. As I told our players this morning, the fact that they got 16 wide-open 3’s is problematic. And if you think that Max Strus is going to go 0-for-9 again or Duncan Robinson is going to go 1-for-5 again, you’re wrong.”
Needless to say, Malone made it clear with his comments that he’s doing everything he can to ensure his players don’t lose sight of the opportunity to win a championship.
Competing in the franchise’s first NBA Finals, the Nuggets will look to improve to 10–0 at home this postseason on Sunday against a Heat team eager to even the series.