Mike Malone was asked in his press conference the day before Game 3 of the playoff finals why he chose to publicly blame his players for effortlessness after the home loss in Game 2. "I was honest. I will never tell you journalists something that I haven't said to my players before. I asked them why they lost and they told me that the effort wasn't enough, I was just honest with you."
That's the kind of risk a coach takes. If Denver dominates the next game and the intensity of its players is obvious, words like motivation and psychological imprisonment will be thrown into the air. If Denver's secondary players fall apart like they did in Game 2, it would be more of a "throw his players under the bus."
17 videos he made for his actors. They recorded 40 points scored by Miami due to lack of concentration and lack of communication by Denver players. The message was definitely internalized: Jamal Murray talked about how the team had won seven games in a row before and that it dominated Game 2 in the first quarters as well.
Mike Malone. There is a tendency to look for the psychological instead of the practical,
Malone has a clear tendency to always explain statistically-scientifically his messages. He mentions that Denver dominated the first three quarters of both series — and in both games allowed Miami a significant lead in the fourth quarter. The whole problem is to maintain the effort for 48 minutes.
Even more honest was Nikola Jokic when asked if that message and the videos they watched would help the team and we'd see a tougher display in Game 3. "How can I answer you now? We have to wait for the game," the Serbian said as usual.
And that's exactly the danger for Denver: Sometimes there's a tendency to look for the psychological rather than the practical. Aside from concentration and effort, there are other ways to deal with a slowdown in the final quarter – for example, extending the rotation. Or change something in front of Miami's regional district. Malone currently chooses only to demand more focus from his players. Victory tomorrow night and everything so far is fine. A loss would send him looking for basketball solutions.
Jimmy Butler at the press conference ahead of Game 3, Photo: AP
I ask Gabe Vincent how much in the league she's obsessed with hierarchy. Who's the Elf Dog, who's the Batman and who's the Miami supporting cast is dangerous precisely because you really don't know where 15 or 20 or 25 points are going to come from. "Our rotation is definitely an advantage. We can always go to some player and it's definitely hard for the opponent to read us."
"As a defender, would you hate playing against a team like you?" I ask him.
"I'm definitely happy to be with our group," he laughs.
Kyle Lowry warms up in practice, Photo: Reuters
Someone suggests Kyle Lowry is the best golfer in the league. "You're crazy. There's Steph," he rejects the compliment, but he takes credit for basketball. But when asked about basketball, and who has the best depth passing on the team, he says, "For sure!"
But this is not arrogance, he talks about his role in passing on his endless knowledge and championship experience to Vincent. Another participant on the podium - Max Strus talks about how the team practices all its defensive methods with every possible quintet. When Heat players are asked questions like "what did they say to each other before the final quarter," they always say the same thing: no motivational talk. Practical solutions.
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Denver will try to solve the practical in psychology, Miami solves the psychology with the practical.
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