Michael Malone Used Interesting Motivational Tactic to Spark Nuggets' Game 3 Win

May 10, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone calls out a play
May 10, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone calls out a play / Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

With the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets finding themselves in a 2-0 series hole in the West semifinals against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Nuggets coach Michael Malone had to find a new way to motivate his team with its season in doubt.

Despite having the best player in the NBA on the roster in Nikola Jokić, the Nuggets were struggling to stop Minnesota's Anthony Edwards, and with Jamal Murray clearly hobbled, there were many wondering if Denver's season was over.

That made it easy for Malone to spark his team heading into Game 3 on Friday night, which the Nuggets won 117-90 to cut the series deficit to 2-1.

"You're always testing and finding out about human nature and what guys are made of when your back's against the wall," Malone said. "I had an edit made...and it was a two-minute edit of every talking head in this country saying that the series is over. The Nuggets are done. It's a wrap. They're toast. Minnesota's the better team...all the big personalities. You know who they are. Not that they were wrong. This is not a shot at those people because after those first two games, I probably would have said the same thing. ...But I knew this would maybe strike a chord."

And it did.

Every member of Denver's starting lineup scored in double figures, with Jokić and Murray pouring in 24 each, while Michael Porter Jr. scored 21 of his own.

Denver stepped up on the defensive end of the floor as well, holding Minnesota to 10 for 33 shooting (30.3%) from three. Edwards scored just 19 points and was a -32 in 37 minutes of action.

Game 4 in Minnesota is set for Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

Mike McDaniel


Mike McDaniel is a writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated, where he has worked since January 2022. His work has been featured at InsideTheACC.com, SB Nation, FanSided, and more. Mike hosts the Hokie Hangover Podcast, covering Virginia Tech athletics, as well as Basketball Conference: The ACC Football Podcast. Outside of his professional life, he is a husband, father, and an avid golfer.