Denver coach Michael Malone doubled down on his demand that the Nuggets play with more discipline as they seek to regain the upper hand over the Miami Heat in the National Basketball Association Finals.
A furious Malone had questioned his players’ effort and discipline after their Game 2 defeat in Denver, and he said the players were in full agreement.
“Our players owned it,” Malone said after the team trained in Miami ahead of Game 3 on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
“I asked them after the game: Why did we lose tonight? And they told me we didn’t play hard enough. They told me we weren’t disciplined enough.”
Malone had already warned after the Nuggets won game one that a lackluster defensive effort had allowed Miami too many scoring chances that the Heat just didn’t capitalize on.
On Wednesday, he noted that Denver had dominated both games through three quarters — but said the Heat were dominating in the fourth.
“They’re averaging 33 points a game in the fourth quarter, shooting over 60 percent from the field in the fourth quarter and over 50 percent (from three-point range),” he said.
“We have to learn from game two to use it to our advantage,” he said.
“What I know about our group is that for years now we’ve handled adversity very well. I have no doubt that tomorrow night will be a much more disciplined, urgent team for 48 minutes.”
Malone said it would start with better communication.
“A saying I learned a long time ago, communication is concentration,” he said.
“For me to communicate, I have to know what the hell to say. If I’m not concentrating and I’m not focusing, I don’t know what to say.”
“We had way too many examples, for an NBA Finals game, where we had guys not on the same page because of a lack of communication.”
“Their ball movement, their body movement, obviously they do a really good job with that,” Malone said of the Heat but added: “Think about this — going into the fourth quarter they had 75 points, they were shooting 43 percent from the field and we’re up eight.”
“So now it’s just a matter of sustaining it for a lot closer to 48 minutes.”