“After the Nuggets dropped Game 2 on Sunday, 111-108, Bleacher Report learned that Jeff Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and DeAndre Jordan called out the team in the locker room for a lackadaisical, lethargic effort,” Haynes wrote.
Caldwell-Pope, who struggled himself in Game 2, explained that the team was frustrated with how it played at home in that matchup. The loss ended up evening the series at one game apiece.
“We were frustrated with how we played and the effort we gave out,” Caldwell-Pope told Bleacher Report. “We all had the same message. We can’t have that type of energy going into Game 2. We have to want it more than Miami. It was unacceptable. We’ve been in this situation before, and I love the way we reacted tonight.”
Green, who has played in the NBA Finals before, believed that the team’s “lows” in Game 2 were unacceptable.
“I said this Miami team is going to fight and they’re going to battle,” he told Bleacher Report. “The lows that we had in that game were unacceptable, especially at this point in the season. We just had to be better.”
The Nuggets also had a surprising voice speak up after Game 2, as two-time MVP Nikola Jokic reportedly had a message for the team as well.
“Honestly, I don’t remember that I was talking,” Jokic told Bleacher Report. “So if I was saying something, I don’t remember what I was saying. Maybe it was just my emotions at the time. I don’t remember, to be honest. Maybe they’re just all crazy. But I think I’m normal. When I say something, it’s not that I’m trying to be vocal. There’s a purpose. When I see something, I’m going to say it. I’m never going to talk just to talk.”
Denver responded in a big way in Game 3, beating the Heat in Miami to reclaim home-court advantage in the series.
Jokic backed up his talk with his play, posting the first ever 30-20-10 game in NBA Finals history. He finished Game 3 with 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists.
Nikola Jokic has the first 30-20-10 game in NBA Finals history, per @ESPNStatsInfo. (Blocks weren’t an official stat in the Russell/Wilt days.)
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) June 8, 2023
Nuggets head coach Mike Malone also wasn’t happy with his team’s play after Game 2, but the Nuggets clearly knew how to respond in Miami.
With Denver now leading the series 2-1, the Heat have to find a way to bounce back at home in Game 4.
Miami is 6-3 at home in the playoffs, but it has now lost three straight home games. The team also dropped Games 4 and 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Boston Celtics.
Jokic speaking up shows just how locked in the big man is for this series. The Nuggets star has two triple-doubles in the NBA Finals, and he scored 41 points in the team’s Game 2 loss.
He’s averaging 33.3 points, 14.0 rebounds and 9.3 assists per game on 59.0 percent shooting from the field and 44.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc through three Finals games.
If Denver ends up winning the series, he will almost certainly be named the NBA Finals MVP.
Denver and Miami have a bit of a quick turnaround for Game 4 compared to the first few games of this series. That matchup is scheduled to take place on Friday, June 9 in Miami.