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#pounditFriday, December 4, 2020

Michael Malone reveals what is fueling Nuggets ahead of Game 7

Michael Malone

The Denver Nuggets were never favored to beat the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals. They were essentially considered finished after falling behind 3-1. Instead of rolling over, the Nuggets came back from two double-digit deficits and forced a decisive Game 7.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone has heard the doubters, and he thinks the team has as well. That perception, he says, is fueling the players ahead of Game 7.

“I almost feel like we’re The Bad News Bears and I’m Coach Buttermaker,” Malone said Monday, via Sean Keeler of the Denver Post. “We’re a team that nobody really looks at and takes us seriously. And our guys, I think, have taken that personally.

“But we don’t believe (that label). We don’t believe that’s what we are. We feel that we’re just as good as anybody. We feel like we’re an NBA championship-caliber team.”

The Clippers, led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, were constructed to win a title. The Nuggets have stars in Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, but never got anywhere close to the same hype. That’s despite the fact that Denver was only 3.5 games worse than the Clippers record-wise during the regular season.

Nuggets players are certainly aware of how they’re perceived. They’re clearly focused on upsetting the odds and the pundits on Tuesday night.

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