The sense of urgency in Michael Malone’s voice contradicted Denver’s comfortable No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
With 17 games remaining and a healthy six-game barrier between the Nuggets and the No. 8-seeded Clippers, the Nuggets’ coach wouldn’t even concede Monday that a playoff spot was secure.
He was too focused on correcting all that had gone wrong in Friday’s humbling loss at Golden State, and really, the bad habits that have plagued the (43-22) Nuggets since February’s All-Star break. At issue: selfish play, forcing contested shots, turnovers.
“Showed 13 clips today,” Malone said. “I told the guys before we watched them, said, ‘If anybody in here is sensitive, get up and leave now.’ It was very open, very honest, very direct about what a bad shot is, what a bad turnover is, what selfish basketball looks like.”
Malone was less tense than in the aftermath of Friday’s 122-105 loss to the defending champion Warriors, but he was more resolute with his convictions.
“We have a great opportunity in front of us, but who do we want to be?” Malone said. “That was one of my questions to our team today. Do we want to just kind of just crawl into the playoffs and be thankful we made it, do we want to fight for homecourt advantage in the first round? We’re a game and a half behind Golden State. Do we want to really commit to trying to get that? I don’t know.”
Since the All-Star break, the Nuggets have coasted to a 4-4 record with one terrible loss and several others games where they never gave themselves a chance. In that span, their offense ranks 18th overall, and they’ve got the third-worst turnover percentage in the NBA during that span. They’ve also lost four of five entering Tuesday’s game vs. Minnesota.
“When the ball’s not moving, the ball has no energy,” said starting forward Paul Millsap. “When the ball has no energy, the team has no energy. Our team hasn’t had energy for the past few weeks.”
Millsap, a veteran of nine postseason runs between the Jazz and the Hawks, said that the criticism was overdue.
“Good honest conversation is always good,” Millsap said. “It’s been past due. We’ve been able to get away with a few games by not playing the right way, and it’s good to come in and hear some criticism. Get back to doing what we do. And sometimes guys don’t know what they’re doing wrong. If we don’t nip it in the bud, it can become a habit. We’re trying to break a lot of habits, we’ve broke a lot of habits this year, we’re trying to get back to our good habits.”
Millsap said he was actually encouraged by how the team took the criticism.
“Better than I thought it would be,” said Millsap, who sported a swelling bump near his left eye. “It was really good. The energy was great today (at practice). I took a shot in the eye.”
At the heart of the matter is getting back to playing unselfish basketball as opposed to dribbling the air out of the ball – which has made the Nuggets significantly easier to defend. Denver is at its best when the ball is moving, guys are cutting and setting screens for one another, and center Nikola Jokic is conducting the organized chaos.
“This homestand will really kind of showcase all of us where we are as a team and what our commitment level is and what are we willing to fight and sacrifice for,” Malone said. “I (told our team) I’m tired of talking. All we do is talk, talk, talk. Let’s start doing it. Let’s get on the floor and start doing it.”
Like this story? Help support more local journalism.Become a subscriber for only 99 cents for the first month.
- The hard truth about the Facebook ad boycott: Nothing matters but Zuckerberg
- Transcript: Attorney General William Barr on "Face the Nation," June 7, 2020
- Transcript: Condoleezza Rice discusses race on "Face the Nation," June 7, 2020
- Transcript: Vice President Mike Pence on "Face the Nation," June 28, 2020
- Transcript: Senator Tim Scott on "Face the Nation," June 28, 2020
- Kiz vs. Singer: How deep a playoff run can the Nuggets make in Orlando?
- Nuggets Mailbag: Will Michael Porter Jr. crack the playoff rotation in Orlando?
- Relegation playoff: Werder Bremen facing moment of truth in Heidenheim
- Democratic officials, governors push for nationwide mask mandate as administration defends state-by-state approach
- 'We Want the Truth': Sweden Appoints 'Corona Commission' to Assess Its Covid-19 Response
- Journalists like Maria Ressa face death threats and jail for doing their jobs. Facebook must take its share of the blame
- ‘The Truth’ Review: Who Wants a French Screen-Legend Stand-Off?
- The truth about Trump's call to reopen schools
- Phillip Schofield 'could be approached by BBC bosses with an offer worth MILLIONS as his golden handcuffs deal with ITV comes to an end in 2021'
- Kiszla: Nuggets headed on fool’s errand to Florida, where COVID-19 is going to kick NBA’s asterisk
- Where the Nuggets rank in national power rankings entering the NBA’s season restart
- Nikola Jokic still not in the country, but Nuggets “working on getting” him back before Orlando
- Nuggets veteran Will Barton: Protests and T-shirts aren’t enough. It’s time for a revolution.
“Who do we want to be?”: Nuggets facing hard truths as playoffs approach have 894 words, post on www.denverpost.com at March 10, 2019. This is cached page on Auto News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.