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Chris Dempsey, Altitude Sports Nuggets Analyst

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
June 6, 2023 8:22 pm

Chris Dempsey, Altitude Sports Nuggets Analyst

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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June 6, 2023 8:22 pm

Chris Dempsey joined Zach to discuss the Nuggets confidence heading into Game 3 and if the best way to slow down Nikola Jokic is by allowing him to score. 

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Chris, appreciate the time. How are you? Oh, doing fantastic.

How are you? Appreciate it. Appreciate you having me on. Yeah, no problem.

Thanks so much. So, Mike Malone after the game really stood out to me. I know back in that Western Conference final series against the Lakers, he questioned the team's effort in the middle of what I think was game number two. And they quickly turned it around and ended up winning that game, obviously, in a sweep. But the other night after game two, he crushed his team. What did you make of the Nuggets' effort? And do you think it's just a little bit more of coming out of the gate with a little bit more intensity? Yeah, I just think that when you're playing the Miami Heat, your effort level has to be...

If maximum is 10, then you probably need to be on a 12. Because that's how that basketball team plays. And they don't call it heat culture by mistake.

And so you have to meet them at that energy and intensity level. The Nuggets did not do that. And he called it, basically, regular season energy.

And you can't bring that in the playoffs, obviously, the NBA Finals. So he's done that before, I'd say about a handful of times during the course of the season. Really called them out for lack of energy in a game. So there's a piece of this team that probably is used to that from time to time.

But he definitely wasn't wrong. And I would expect that the Nuggets come out with a much more energized and intense effort tomorrow night. And also in the aftermath of game two, Eric Spulcher wasn't happy with Ramona Shelburne, who said that is the goal to kind of just let Jokic get his from a scoring standpoint. And take away the passing and take away the other guys as well. I said something very similar, so maybe I have an untrained eye here, Chris Dempsey. Because that's how I thought is the best way to play Nikola Jokic. You see Joker on a night in and night out basis.

I know there's no easy way to play him. But is that a good strategy, in fact, that was the strategy by the Heat? I think it's interesting.

I think it's a little bit of both what's happening. Because you definitely want to take away Nikola Jokic's ability to be a playmaker. Because if he's scoring 30 points and he's got 14 assists, then you're really in trouble. And so you can't let him get the daily double like that. So you definitely want to cut down.

You want to make sure there's no cutters. You want to make sure that you're on the three-point shooters in the corners. All these places where he likes to get the majority of his assists. But I also don't think that you just want him to score 40 points. So I think if you can hold him down in the high 20s and his assists down, that's probably the sweet spot.

But if you had to choose one of the two, the playoffs right here are telling you that when he scores a bunch of points and doesn't get the assist, the Nuggets lose. So I think Eric Spulcher was right. He didn't think of it exactly like that. But certainly you want to take away the playmaking piece, which then makes the game look like, hey, if he scores, fine. But if he doesn't do this other thing, and that's the actual strategy, when I think it was a little blend of both. Yeah, and that's the thing.

I didn't have a problem with the question. Like I said, it was something that I've said as well. But I think from Spulcher's side of it, it was, oh, you're just making it out to be so easy. It's so easy to prevent everyone else from getting theirs and stopping Nikola Jokic from passing where maybe he just didn't want to be disrespectful to Nikola Jokic in that regard because of how great of a player he is. Yeah, exactly right. I think that's what's coming out of Eric Spulcher because he has such respect for what Nikola Jokic can do on the court. Then he's not going to allow the narrative to be, well, it's an easy cover. It's an easy solution to neutralize him and then thus neutralize the Nuggets.

Because he doesn't believe that in his core. And so I think you're right about that. It was more out of respect for Nikola than it really was out of spite for Ramona.

But he probably wishes he had that answer back just a little bit. When you look at the Denver Nuggets fan confidence right now after what transpired in Game 2, do they still feel like they're going to be okay and win this series? You have to imagine with how Game 2 was playing on out, the fact that they still had a chance to send that game to overtime, it's like, okay, even when Miami beats us, there was still a path to go win that game. Yeah, you know what, we had to remind a lot of people of that because there was a little, I wouldn't say it was full blown panic, but after Game 1, everybody thought, oh, this is going to be fine.

We got this. And then after Game 2, there's a little bit more of, oh right, but they're also a really good team. So this is going to be a series.

And then you start slicing and dicing what the Nuggets were or were not doing. But to your point, you tend to forget sometimes that as average as the Nuggets played that game, Jamal Murray had a chance to tie that game with a buzzer beating shot. So, you know, I think Nuggets fans are a little cautious to that now. I think it snapped them back into a little bit of a reality about, okay, this is a real series and you got to beat a team.

But still, there's a confidence in the city that their team will get it done. We've seen Nicole Jokic in this series play great. We've seen Bam Adebayo play great. The other two stars, Jimmy Butler and Jamal Murray, neither have had a great game in this series. What do you look for in Game 3 when it pertains to Jimmy Buckets and also Jamal Murray? Yeah, it was one of the really good adjustments that the Heat made getting Jimmy Butler on Jamal Murray. And really, it wasn't that Jamal Murray's shooting percentage was super low because it wasn't, but his touches were greatly reduced.

His usage was greatly reduced. And so, look, the Nuggets have figured this out, have had teams play them like this before. And so, all they'll do is get Jamal Murray off the ball a little bit more and then get him back on the ball after they get the ball into the front court in their offensive end and let him operate that way. So, I'm sure the adjustments for the Nuggets in that respect will be, I'm not going to say self-explanatory, but they've been down this road before.

That's the best way I'll put it. And so, I think that they'll get Jamal Murray a lot more touches in areas of the court that he can really be successful at. So, I would expect that his 15 shots, I think 15 will turn into somewhere between 20-22 shots in Game 3 and then it'll be on him to make those shots and make sure he's taking good ones.

And if that's the case, then I would expect that he'll have a decent game. And we know Aaron Gordon was great in Game 1, Game 2 he was fine, but Michael Porter Jr. and Contavious Caldwell-Pope just also have not shown up yet in this series. I just feel like, hey, you look at Game 1 to Game 2 for Miami, Miami missed their shots in Game 1 and then in Game 2 you had their guys like Duncan Robinson and Gabe Vincent and Max Shrews show up. I gotta feel it's going to be inevitable that in one of these games of Miami that you see Jamal Murray hitting those 3s, Contavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr. as well. Yeah, and I tell you what, the player that's most concerning is Michael Porter Jr. because he has 3 for 17 from the 3-point line in the first two games. Somebody asked me on my own radio show this afternoon, does he have any other instances this season of stretches like this? And the answer is yes, there were like 3 or 4 during the regular season where it was 4 for 19 or 5 for 20 over a 3-4-5 game span.

So there is precedent here for him to maybe live in that space even a game or two longer. But for him, I just think the key is the ratio of 3-point shooting to overall field goals will then just have to change because of the 24 shots total he's taken, 17 have been from the 3-point line. And that just can't be the case if you're going to shoot as low a percentage as he is shooting from the 3-point line. In Game 1, he was able to get himself on the offensive glass, he was able to attack some closeouts and finish at the rim, he was able to get himself to the free throw line, ended up with 14 points anyway and 13 rebounds. And if he's not going to make the 3-point shot with regularity, then he can still do those things and I think he has to exist in that space and get himself back to that space and maybe even start there and then build back out to the 3-point line rather than shoot the 3 first and then try to figure it out second. Last thing I'll ask you, Chris Dempsey, I know you want this series to be 3-1 going back to Denver, but it feels like it's going to be 2-2 now after Game 2. Do you agree with that?

Yeah, I do. Miami, it's not that they've been world beaters at home because they have not been, but they have hit on some things that I think are repeatable for them to be able to see them through in at least one of those two games in Miami. I don't know what else new and different they can do to keep the Nuggets off balance, but Eric Solstra is one of the smartest, if not the smartest coach in the NBA, so he'll get that sorted out. But if they're allowed to shoot 3's and make 3's like that, then the Nuggets are going to be in for a real fight.

And I would expect that one of the two games they'd at least be on like that from the 3-point line and probably are able to push this thing back to Denver Game 5 tied at 2. This may be a dumb question because I have some family members that live in Centennial. Have you been to Little Man Ice Cream? Yeah, I have been to Little Man Ice Cream. It's so very popular. The line is crazy. I was just there two weeks ago. I was waiting in line for like 30 minutes. Yeah, I was going to say it was so good. You know I was going to say the lines are so long at Little Man Ice Cream, but it's definitely worth it.

So yeah, I'd wait in that line for sure. What's your favorite flavor? I know everyone likes that salted cookies and cream, but what's your favorite flavor? Yeah, so you know I'm a very simple guy.

So you give me a mint chocolate chip or just give me a chocolate and I'm good to go. Gotcha. I tried that banana pudding flavor last time. It was pretty damn good as well. Chris Dempsey does a great job.

Muggins reported an analyst for Altitude Sports. Appreciate you joining us for a few moments. I appreciate you. Thank you. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-06 22:24:29 / 2023-06-06 22:29:36 / 5

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