In Games 3 and 4, Phoenix’s bench outscored Denver’s bench 65-31 after the Nuggets had won that contest 36-28 in the series’ opening two games.
But in Game 5, Denver’s bench scored 34 points, a postseason high, just one game after the Suns’ bench outscored the Nuggets’ backups 40-11.
Credit Bruce Brown for Denver’s bench play in Game 5’s turn of events.
He scorched Phoenix for a career-high 25 points while coming off the bench in the 156th game of his career. In Games 3 and 4, the veteran had only accrued 16 points overall.
The Denver bench outperformed the Suns’ bench 34 to 26.
In Game 5, everyone anticipated Denver to stress on its transition defense, and before tip-off, Nuggets coach Michael Malone made it clear where he felt on the issue.
Phoenix led the league in fast-break points, nearly three points higher than the No. 2 Boston Celtics, during the first four games of this series while the Nuggets allowed an average of 19.3 points in transition, dead worst among the eight teams still in the playoffs.
The Suns destroyed Denver for an average of 21.5 points in transition in Games 3 and 4. Denver, though, would turn the tables in Game 5 by outscoring Phoenix by 31 fast-break points to 25 for them, setting a postseason record.
The Nuggets scored more than 30 fast-break points for the third time this season during the performance.
Over the first four games, Denver’s fast-break scoring were minus-29.
Malone declared, “We’re not going to win this series outright if we can’t eliminate the transition.”
Malone observed that his team needs to “be a lot more disciplined with the crash rate” after watching the video of Denver’s most recent two games since players frequently crashed the glass from the top of the key when they shouldn’t have.
Malone may have found it more annoying to watch Denver shuffle back on defense as Devin Booker and Cameron Payne ran past Nuggets defenders in a mad dash for the basket. In transition defense, according to Malone, “your first two steps have to be a sprint.”
Malone bemoaned, “And there are clips where, when you look at it—and I’ve watched them over and over and over again—it’s like watching a horror movie.”
“They are sprinting while we are jogging. These are essential when the outcome of the game depends on one or two possessions. read full article here