The Denver Nuggets lived up to their status as favorites and didn’t find much trouble beating the Miami Heat in Game 1.
Some wondered whether all that time to rest would lead to rust and shaky legs, but that wasn’t the case by any means.
If anything, coach Mike Malone had his guys more than ready to take over right out of the gate, and that was pretty much the message he sent since finding out they were going to face the Heat.
When asked about his pre-game preparation, Malone admitted that he reminded his players that the Heat took Game 1 in every single series thus far, so they couldn’t afford to let them gain control of the series, as seen below.
"I reminded that group that Miami went into Milwaukee and won Game 1. They went into the Garden in New York City and won Game 1. They won Game 1 up in Boston. We did not want them coming in here taking control of the series."
Mike Malone on the importance for the Nuggets… pic.twitter.com/AV0Y7NY7Kv
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) June 2, 2023
Notably, the Heat can still “afford” to lose Game 2 as long as they take care of business when the series heads back to South Beach, as they would still need to steal one one the road to get home-court advantage.
Home-court advantage could be massive in any series, especially at this stage in the season and at the heights of Colorado.
Denver’s thin air is no joke, especially late in games and in second halves when visiting players are gasping for air and visually exhausted.
The Nuggets cannot let that natural ally come to waste, let alone give up control of the series against a team that has made the most of every single chance they’ve gotten to steal a win this postseason.
Now, they need to take that very same approach in Game 2.NEXT: Fans React To Nuggets' Game 1 Win Over Heat