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#pounditSaturday, July 20, 2024

Michael Malone is not happy with 1 Nuggets habit

Michael Malone smiling

Feb 5, 2020; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone reacts during the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone is clearly fed up with one of the habits his team appears to have developed during this year’s playoffs.

Malone called out his team on Sunday ahead of Game 2, pointing out that their habit of falling behind in the first quarter of games is not sustainable. Denver lost the first quarter in all five of their games against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, then fell behind Minnesota 18-4 to start Game 1 on Saturday before coming back to take the lead.

“We have to do a better job, our starters in particular, have to do a better job of being ready to play and setting the tone early,” Malone said, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “What are we waiting for? I mean, now we’re down 0-1, what are you waiting for?

“I talked to our players this morning about how for five games against the Lakers, we were down [virtually] every first quarter. So, do I believe that our guys are fully ready to give whatever it takes to try to defend our title? Of course I do. But at some point, man, you got to stop doing the same thing.”

Malone is correct that the Nuggets cannot keep doing this. It did not end up costing them against the Lakers, but the Timberwolves are better equipped to take advantage of those slow starts. Even though Denver did come back to take the lead in Game 1, they wound up losing the game.

The Nuggets are being presented with plenty of issues against Minnesota. An improved performance will be necessary if they want to avoid going down 2-0 and losing both home games to the Timberwolves.

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