Guard Bruce Brown of the Denver Nuggets has been taking advantage of the long break before the start of the NBA Finals to improve his game, namely his golf game.
Brown reminisced, “The first day of golf I played, I played pretty well.” “The second day was even worse than the first.”
As the Nuggets returned to the court on Friday for a light practice, it was time for Brown to get back to the business of hitting jump shots, which are the ones that he hits the best. Game 1 of the franchise’s first appearance in an NBA Finals is still about a week away, and their opponent still needs to be selected as Boston. After that, Miami is heading into Game 6 of their Eastern Conference finals series. Again, this will be the franchise’s first participation in the NBA Finals.
The break has arrived at a highly convenient time. The rust, on the other hand, starts to become a problem.
“It’s impossible to keep your rhythm if you’re not playing games,” remarked Michael Malone, the head coach of the Denver Nuggets. It doesn’t matter how hard you try in training, there’s no way you can simulate the intensity of competing in an NBA playoff game.
On the flight back to Denver, the Nuggets celebrated their victory against the Los Angeles Lakers by sweeping the series. They were granted a day off on Tuesday and an optional day on Wednesday, although many players did show up for both. Before coming back together on the practice floor on Friday, players participated in conditioning and individual drills on Thursday. The competition will become more intense as we get closer to Thursday’s start of the game and once they find out who they will be playing (the Heat now hold a 3-2 lead, and the series will move to Miami on Saturday).
Malone stated, “Right now, as I told our players, this is about us,” regarding the current situation. “We need to strengthen who we are and address the areas in which we have not been perhaps good enough or areas in which we can make improvements,”
Before the all-star break, Nikola Jokic, guard Jamal Murray, and the rest of the Nuggets were also rolling along, posting a postseason record of 12-3. The most crucial guidance that Murray gave was to continue practicing as if they were going to play.
“Don’t pick up any bad habits throughout this week,” Murray cautioned his student. We can remain confined. You do not want to allow yourself to become relaxed. This is the most important factor: we do not want to sit back and wait. We wish to maintain our mental acuity.
On Thursday night, Murray took advantage of the opportunity to see some of the Stanley Cup playoffs. During Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, he saw the “green team,” which he described as the Dallas Stars, defeat the “white team,” which he described as the Vegas Golden Knights, in overtime. According to him, the competition drove home an important lesson: to play with passion throughout the game, particularly on defense.
“Our defense is being played with intent,” Murray stated. We’ve all been pulled in the same direction. We all lock in when we need a stop, and even if we don’t get it, we continue to lock in and strive to obtain its possession after possession. That is important at this moment.
The same goes for juggling a career in basketball with responsibilities at home. Malone has stated that his family has been essential in keeping him grounded.
“I can’t go home and be in a mindset like it’s Game 7 because my wife and kids would leave me,” Malone said. “It’s not worth it.” “I have to make a conscious effort to remind myself that I am a husband, a father, and a member of my family,” says the speaker. “I have to force myself to take a deep breath.”
Because Malone has a taxing series coming up, he might even play a game of pickleball this coming weekend to take his mind off of what’s to come. Jayson Tatum and the Celtics may be responsible. Or Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat, who were the eighth seed but advanced to the playoffs by virtue of winning the play-in tournament.
The upcoming game will be a reunion for Brown, regardless of who his opponent is. He attended the University of Miami for his undergraduate education and is originally from Boston.
Brown said, “But if we did go to Boston, it would be a lot of tickets.” Therefore, the cost would be extremely high.