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Nuggets basking in Finals spotlight, enjoying rest while trying not to allow rust

Zena Keita and Kelsey Nicole Nelson discuss Jamal Murray's emergence as a superstar for the Denver Nuggets during their NBA Finals run.

Nine days.

That vacation-length time is how long the Nuggets have off between sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers out of the playoffs and starting the franchise’s first ever NBA Finals. That should be long enough for what the Nuggets saw as a Lakers-centric spotlight during the Western Conference Finals — continuiing after the series ended thanks to LeBron James hinting about retirement — to come around and shine on the Nuggets.

“If anybody is still talking about the Lakers in the NBA Finals, that’s on them,” coach Michael Malone said Friday, hitting on an oldie but goodie in the Nuggets’ locker room. “They’ve gone fishing. We’re still playing.”

After the marathon grind of an NBA season followed by the finishing sprint of the playoffs, Nuggets players talked about being happy with all that time off to rest their bodies.

The concern is rust.

“That’s the thing, we take the rest, yeah, but you don’t want to pick up bad habits throughout this week…” Jamal Murray said. “We don’t want to get relaxed. I think that’s the biggest thing. We don’t want to relax and just wait. We want to stay sharp.”

“It’s impossible to keep your rhythm if you’re not playing games,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “You can do whatever you want in practice, but there’s no way you can replicate playing an NBA playoff game…

“It’s a tough situation because you’re just kind of preparing for an opponent you don’t know who you’re going to play. So right now as I told our players, this is about us. We have to shore up who we are and address the areas that we have not been maybe good enough or areas that we can clean up. It’s really hard to keep your rhythm when you’re not playing NBA games, but we’ll do everything we can to try to keep the rhythm as best as possible.”

The opponent will be the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics, although it will be Saturday or Memorial Day Monday before Denver can hone its focus on one opponent.

For now, things are pretty chill.

“Right now, really just recovering, resting,” Bruce Brown said. “And then our days off have me some time to go out and golf. It’s been great.”

The golf was great?

“Yeah, the first day of golf I played pretty well. The second day was terrible,” Brown said.

Pretty soon, the golf and relaxing will be over, and the Nuggets will be adjusting to a stage they have never been on before. But they will be well rested.