On the NBA Beat Ep. 154: Mike Singer: Stopping Phoenix an “Impossible Equation” for Nuggets

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Nikola Jokic earned 2020-21 MVP honors and was presented with his trophy before Denver’s home Game 3 against the Phoenix Suns. But an epic individual performance from the skilled center was not enough for the team to avoid another double-digit loss, its third in as many games of the series. Facing a 3-0 hole, the Nuggets will need a miracle in order to make NBA history and become the first ever team to come back from such a series deficit. Our guest, Mike Singer of the Denver Post, breaks down how the Nuggets got to this point, with specific emphasis on Denver’s ongoing quest to replace the scoring void left by Jamal Murray’s season-ending knee injury and the team’s inadequate defense against Phoenix’s devastating pick-and-roll attack. Finally, Singer looks ahead to the most pressing offseason priorities looming ahead for the franchise.

8:08-8:33: “If Austin Rivers and Facu Campazzo are not giving you anything offensively, that means that you are not making Chris Paul and Devin Booker work on the defensive end. Therefore they’re saving all their energy for the offensive end and just picking you to pieces. So, talent disparity, but more specifically if you zoom in, it’s in the backcourt.”

14:21-15:05: “There is no doubt that he [Aaron Gordon] has not been the offensive piece that they need this series, and I don’t know if that’s fair to ask of him to be the third scoring option in this series. That’s not really his game. He has kind of an inconsistent, unreliable 3-point shot. His midrange is iffy. I even think his touch around the basket is a little bit suspect. However, he is really good in transition, when he’s cutting Nikola Jokic really makes the most of him and finds him, and he’s really good in that dunker’s spot. … But the reason why they got Aaron Gordon was for the defensive end, and I think he’s been reliable.”

19:29-19:42: “So they can hit you from so many angles. They’re a dynamic, three-level scoring team that also plays defense. I think people are starting to recognize the Suns may be legitimate title contenders.”

25:44-26:23: “I think maybe among the coolest things about his legacy is that it will change the perception of what people think about as an NBA superstar. When you think about NBA players, you think of freak athletes. You think Giannis, you think Russell Westbrook, obviously LeBron, those fast-twitch leapers who are just incredible physical players, and then you think about Nikola Jokic. … He has proven that you don’t need to be a fast-twitch, high leaper to dominate the game like he did this year.”

37:42-38:07: “I don’t think that they’ve tuned out [head coach Michael] Malone by any means. He’s a sixth-year coach. I think that there’s a lot of respect that runs up and down the roster for him. He could be quicker in certain adjustments. He could try to change up matchups a little bit. But the reality is the Nuggets are depleted right now, and there aren’t a lot of giant changes to be made schematically or personnel-wise.”

41:38-41:50: “I’m not gonna be shocked if they come out fighting and somehow steal Game 4, but no, I do not expect them to make NBA history. I think this team is exhausted.”

*The Bill Clinton-Mike Singer Youtube video referenced in the intro.

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