After their loss to Toronto on Tuesday, the Nuggets have now dropped four straight games, and they haven’t exactly faced a murderer’s row of opponents during that time. In addition to the loss to Toronto, Denver’s recent defeats have been at the hands of Chicago (by 21 points), San Antonio, and Brooklyn, with two of them coming at home.
On Tuesday, head coach Michael Malone suggested the Nuggets seem to be in “chill mode,” adding that the team needs to find a way to get its “swagger” back (story via ESPN.com).
“Maybe we’ve gotten a little soft with success,” Malone said. “We’ve been on cruise control for so long, No. 1 in the West since like December 15. I just told our players we’ve gotten away from who we are.”
The Nuggets still control the No. 1 spot in the West by four games with just 13 left to play, but Malone will want to see his team firing on all cylinders entering the postseason, since there will be significant pressure on Denver – and its head coach – to make a deep playoff run, as ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Adam Mares of DNVR Sports discussed on the latest episode of The Lowe Post podcast.
“I don’t know if it’s championship or bust, but if this team loses before the conference finals, it’s going to be a disappointment,” Lowe said (hat tip to RealGM). “If they lose in the first round, it’s going to be a catastrophe that I think will push some potential changes.”
Here’s more from around the Northwest:
- While this season hasn’t played out quite how the Timberwolves hoped, their signing of Kyle Anderson has turned into one of the best free agent additions in team history, contends Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. As Krawczynski acknowledges, Minnesota doesn’t exactly have a long history of great free agent signings, but Anderson’s impact on this year’s club shouldn’t be understated.
- Jazz guard Collin Sexton, who has been sidelined since February 15 due to a hamstring strain, is “dying” to get back on the court, head coach Will Hardy said this week. “He’s getting close,” Hardy said, according to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. “… It’s frustrating ’cause he’s such a competitor and he wants to be out there. But he finds a way to channel all that energy to let it rip on the bench. I’ve had to tell him to sit down multiple times ’cause of the new rule where you can’t stand in the corner, and I’ve had multiple officials say, ‘Hey, you gotta tell Sexton to sit down.’ And I’m like, ‘I’m trying, but I can’t really control him — that’s how he is.'”
- After appearing in six G League games with Sacramento’s affiliate, Trail Blazers two-way player John Butler Jr. has been transferred back to Portland, the team announced on Tuesday (via Twitter). The Blazers don’t have an NBAGL team of their own, so Butler was in Stockton, where he averaged 8.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 3.2 BPG in 24.0 MPG.