PHOENIX SUNS

Nuggets down on their ‘soft’ Game 1, Suns expect strong response

Jun 8, 2021, 6:36 PM
Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig shoots as Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., right, looks...

Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig shoots as Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., right, looks on during Game 1 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Monday, June 7, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone saw a “soft mentality” from his team in a Game 1 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Forwards Aaron Gordon and JaMychal Green agreed.

The Nuggets weren’t able to create an edge on the glass, where they were minus-3 despite a size advantage, and a mark of eight second-chance points was over five points below their average in the regular season.

Malone referenced the Suns’ eight and-1s over the game as an astronomically high number and was the stat he brought up before referring to that soft mentality.

The Nuggets and Suns share a lot of similarities, and one of them is how hard they consistently play. Neither team is used to getting outworked by the opposition, but that was clearly the case on Monday, especially in the second half.

“Soft, that’s a good way to put it. Scared is another way to put it,” Gordon said postgame. “You can choose between those two words. Either soft or scared, that’s what it felt like we were playing like.”

Gordon went on to say that it isn’t that concerning for a team that is so resilient, again another parallel between the two teams.

Malone didn’t see an “attack mentality” either, saying that he thought his team settled on plenty of shots. MVP Nikola Jokic thinks the team needs to be more decisive in Game 2.

Suns wing Torrey Craig spent the last three seasons playing for Malone in Denver and knows what’s coming on Wednesday.

“I expect it to be a fight. They’re gonna come out more physical, more aggressive… As a team, we have to know that,” he said Tuesday. “I expect nothing less than a fight. It’s gonna be a dogfight.”

“We just gonna have to play with that level of aggressiveness the whole series,” Craig added.

INJURY UPDATES

Malone said Tuesday that wing Michael Porter Jr. “should be good to go” for Game 2 after Porter’s back tightened up on Monday. Wing Will Barton could also play for the first time since late April, but Malone emphasized it’s just a possibility and they’ll see how he does before the game.

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