Following the Nuggets 123-109 loss to the Blazers in Game 1, the team held a film session to look at what went wrong.
Austin Rivers says the team looked at about 30 clips and, it served as a reality check for the team to know what they must remedy for Game 2.
“You look at yourself on the floor, and you evaluate yourself first and go, ‘okay, I can be much better,’” Rivers said. “I think collectively, and individually we all know we can be much, much better. Same way those guys attacked us, we gotta go back at them.”
The way Portland was attacking Denver’s defense didn’t sit well with coach Michael Malone, from his team’s defense in the pick-and-roll, their help defense off such actions to guard the Blazers ball handlers guarding the three-point line.
Portland pick-and-roll ball handlers scored 22 points and shot 42.9% in Game 1 and as a team they went 19-for-40 from the three-point line, shooting 47.5%.
Spotting up was also an issue for the Denver defense, as Portland scored 40 points on such shots alone, shooting 51.9%.
What displeased Malone, and Monte Morris, was the team’s lack of deflections (9) and loose balls recovered (2). During the regular-season, Denver was seventh in deflections (15.6) and 15th in loose balls recovered (5.9)
“It’s not like it’s a new team that just landed and we trying to figure them out,” said Morris. “We know them and they know us, we just gotta play with more urgency.”
Despite his team’s weaknesses being exploited, Malone remained optimistic in their film session because it’s a seven-game series for a reason.
“My message going into it was, ‘there’s never any need to panic. We’re down 1-0,’ Malone said.
Another common thread of concern amongst Malone, Morris, and Rivers, was how the team defended Portland’s bench, which featured a heavy dosage of Carmelo Anthony and Anfernee Simons.
Anthony and Simons combined for 32 points and eight three-pointers, which was too much for the Nuggets offense in the series-opener.
“I think our bench is a lot better than theirs,” said Morris. “I feel like they don’t really trust -- they play two guys off the bench most of the time (Anthony, Simons).”
Despite Morris saying the Blazers bench doesn’t “trust” each other and not being a fan of Terry Stotts’ short rotation, coach Malone took the opportunity to rave about Anthony, given his journey back to the league.
“He impacted the game in a huge way,” Malone said of Anthony. “We have to do a better job of guarding he and Simons into the game. It’s incredible to think about a few years ago people were wondering if Carmelo was washed up and done. When you watch him, I wish he would’ve retired a few years ago, because that guy is one the best one-on-one players in the history of the game. I’m not saying that because we’re playing them, I’m saying that because it’s the truth.”
There’s a lot the Nuggets will need to fix for Game 2, and a lot the Blazers will need to prepare for to take a 2-0 lead back to Portland.
The playoffs are all about adjustments, and now we’re going to see which team can make the best changes.