The Denver Nuggets have found themselves in a 2-1 hole in their playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs, and head coach Michael Malone considers this a good time to find out if his second-seeded team is a contender or a pretender.
In Game 3 on Thursday night, the Nuggets allowed Spurs point guard Derrick White to score a career-high 36 points. White, who averaged just 9.9 points per game during the regular season, also scored 17 in San Antonio’s Game 2 win. In advance of Game 4 on Saturday, Malone issued a challenge to his team.
Malone basically calling out his team: "How do we respond to (White's game)? Where is your pride? Where is your toughness? Where is your grit? So Game 4 is going to really be like a great insight into who we are as a team, especially our young players, especially Jamal."
— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) April 19, 2019
Jamal Murray, who averaged 18.2 points per game during the regular season, scored just six points in 31 minutes in Game 3. The Nuggets need more from him, and he certainly shouldn’t be getting outplayed by White. Murray has had some fun with Charles Barkley in a little T-shirt war during the series, but Malone obviously wants him to focus more.
The Nuggets won 54 games during the regular season and were favored to beat the Spurs, but they will be looking at an early exit if they go down 3-1. Malone’s comments indicate that he understands how much of a disappointment a first-round exit would be.