Michael Malone reveals biggest concern for Denver Nuggets ahead of Game 5 vs. ‘desperate’ and ‘hungry’ Miami Heat

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Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone has a very simple concern sitting on the verge of an NBA title heading into Game 5 of the Finals against the Miami Heat on Monday.

It should be easy for the Nuggets to be extremely motivated with a chance to wrap up their first NBA championship, in front of their home crowd no less. And it also might cross their mind that only one team has ever blown a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven NBA Finals and not won the crown.

Plus Draymond Green can’t be the only person they’ve heard declare the series already over with the trophy presentation just a formality.

Malone knows the Heat will be a “desperate” and “hungry” opponent, so he is pulling out all his motivational stops in an attempt to end the series as quickly as possible and not risk anything.

Denver has looked like the superior team against Miami, with the Nuggets winning Games 3 and 4 on the road by double digits. They have won nine of their past 10 games and lost only once at Ball Arena the entire playoffs. That lone loss was Game 2 to the Heat, which is all the proof the Nuggets should need that an unlikely comeback is possible if not probable.

Heat forward Kevin Love is living proof it is possible, having played for the Cleveland Cavaliers when they rallied from 3-1 down to snatch the 2016 championship away from Green and the Golden State Warriors. Love said Miami is capable of becoming the second team, out of 37 in all, to overcome such a deficit and capture the title.

It won’t be easy for the Heat, though. Denver big man Nikola Jokic has been a historic player during the playoffs, with 10 triple-doubles and the first 30-20-10 game in Finals history. In that Game 3 win by the Nuggets, he and Jamal Murray also became the first teammates to ever have triple-doubles in the same Finals game.

Those players alone should have Malone feeling supremely confident, and when one looks at how role players Aaron Gordon and Bruce Brown performed in Game 4, it’s hard to see Denver losing one more game, let alone three in a row.

That is, unless Malone’s worries about human nature, desperation and hunger turn out to be right.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.