Michael Malone cautions Nuggets about complacency ahead of Lakers showdown
The Denver Nuggets made history down in the bubble in reaching the Western Conference Finals in astounding fashion, and head coach Michael Malone indicated he’s cautioning players against complacency with the Los Angeles Lakers looming.
The Nuggets became the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 series deficit twice in the same postseason. In fact, teams overcoming a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series has happened only 13 times in the history of the league.
The Nuggets’ two comebacks came in the first round against the Utah Jazz and against the heavily favored Los Angeles Clippers in the second round.
Given the nature of staging such remarkable turnarounds in back-to-back series, Malone is understandably concerned that the Nuggets may unwittingly rest on their laurels in light of the unprecedented nature of their run.
“I think the biggest question, aside from the scheme and plays and personnel is, ‘Are our guys satisfied?’” Malone said Thursday, per The Denver Post.
“’Hey, man, we just made playoff history. Down 3-1, down 3-1, we got to the Western Conference finals (for) only the (third) time in franchise history.’ PHEW! Naturally, (you) to take a breath, come up for air.
“And the Lakers aren’t coming up for air. They’ve been waiting. And I know LeBron, having been around him. They’re going to come out and try to send a message (Friday). And I don’t think their guys are satisfied.”
Malone is simply warning Nuggets players there is no reason to be content with simply reaching the Western Conference Finals. In other words, the head coach wants his players to keep their eyes on the prize.
Another thing Malone may choose to highlight before the team opens up its series against the Lakers is how LeBron James has taken notice of what the “very resilient, very confident, very driven and very well-coached” Nuggets have accomplished in the NBA’s Walt Disney World bubble.
“The respect level is out of this world … for this ball club,” James said, per The Denver Post. “And that’s how we’ll go into this series, understanding what they’re capable of and where they stand.”
Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the No. 3 Nuggets and top-seeded Lakers tips off Friday night in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.