Coach Malone is furious.

The Denver Nuggets lost 108-111 to the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the 2023 NBA Finals at the Mile High City on Friday (5).

Like Game 1, Game 2 was dominated by Denver. After a poor start to the game, the Nuggets turned things around and were within striking distance of victory, leading by as many as 15 points at one point in the second quarter.

However, Denver’s focus didn’t carry over into the second half. After allowing a comeback early in the fourth quarter, the Nuggets rallied but were unable to pull away. After going 34-7 at home in the regular season, the 1-1 record in the two-game homestand is a bit of a disappointment.

After the game, head coach Mike Malone was unusually frustrated with his players. He said he didn’t think they played well after the win, and instead of a carrot, he had a stick for Denver.

“That’s not the most important takeaway from tonight’s loss,” Malone said in response to a question about the lack of scoring from the rest of the starting lineup, with the exception of Nikola Jokic (41 points).메이저놀이터

A deeply disappointed Malone said, “I have to talk about the effort of our players. This is the NBA Finals. When I said after Game 1 that we didn’t play well, people probably thought I was making up a storyline. But we actually didn’t play well. This is not an exhibition game, this is not the regular season, this is the NBA Finals. I was really, really, really disappointed in the effort that the players showed tonight,” he said.

“I asked the players after the game why we lost, and they knew the answer. Miami outplayed us, and we played the most unprepared game of our playoff journey so far. There were too many cracks and mistakes on the team, and Miami capitalised on all of our brokenness.”

Malone noted that his team gave up a lot of wide-open chances in Game 1, but were fortunate that their opponents didn’t shoot well. In Game 2, Miami shot 35 three-pointers, making a whopping 17 of them. Denver’s distractions, miscommunications and defensive breakdowns were a big part of the problem.

“In Game 2, Max Struth made 10 threes, Gabe Vincent made six, Kevin Love made six, Duncan Robinson made three, and those are the guys we need to pay more attention to,” Malone said. In Game 1, they had 16 wide-open three-point opportunities that they didn’t make, and we were just lucky. Obviously, there were some lapses in communication and game planning in Game 2 that were concerning. We didn’t play with the level of mental preparation and effort that we need to be in the NBA Finals.”

Malone also reflected on the team’s defensive breakdown in the fourth quarter. In Game 1, Denver held off a relentless late charge from Miami. In Game 2, the Nuggets gave up 36 points in the fourth quarter alone and were unable to prevent a comeback.

“Our defence has to be much better,” Malone said. In both Game 1 and Game 2, our defence in the fourth quarter was close to non-existent.”

After winning Game 1, Denver’s chances of a series sweep were very high. But Game 2 put the series back in doubt. The Nuggets will have to clean up their act in Game 2 if they want to get closer to their first championship.

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