“I Think So Many People Are Quick To Dismiss People” | Denver Nuggets Head Coach Still Has Utmost Confidence In Michael Porter Jr. Despite Struggles In NBA Finals

The Denver Nuggets bounced back in a big way on Wednesday night in South Beach, as they regained home court advantage in the NBA Finals with their 109-94 win to take a 2-1 series lead and pretty much put the Miami Heat in a must-win situation in Game 4.

Behind the first two 30-point triple-doubles in playoff history by teammates Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, the Nuggets showed why they’re the better team. 

The win itself also proved the Nuggets can win without their main supporting cast playing up to par.

Reserve rookie guard Christian Braun was the third-best player for the Nuggets, scoring 15 points on 7-for-8 shooting off the bench. It was his energy that set the tone for the game. Forward Aaron Gordon played physical and defended at a high level, but sharpshooters Michael Porter Jr. and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have struggled mightily on both ends. 

The MPJ struggles and disappearing act have been a bigger story, considering he’s a max player and the team’s third-leading scorer and option on the offensive end.

Despite his struggles and talking heads coming for him on just about every show — some even putting an APB out for him — his head coach is sticking by him.

Michael Malone Defends Sharpshooter

All playoffs long Porter Jr. has been a consistent knockdown shooter, same as he was during the season when he shot 41 percent from three while averaging 17 points per game. Although in the playoffs his shooting percentages have slipped from 41 to 37 from three,  and his overall percentage from the field has gone from 48 to 43, MPJ has had a propensity to knock in the big ones. 

That hasn’t been the case in the NBA Finals, where he’s struggled not only to make shots, but guard as well. Since scoring 14 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in the Nuggets’ Game 1 win, Porter Jr., can’t seem to hit the side of a barn, shooting a paltry 23.5 percent from the field, and 11.6 from three. The slump has caused his playing time to shrink in each game, and his consistent defensive lapses in Games 1 and 2 didn’t help his cause.

Whatever Malone and his teammates said to him after the Game 2 loss must’ve resonated, at least in his defensive effort, because Porter was much better in the team’s bounce-back win in Game 3. But he’s still shooting it pretty badly despite getting quality looks. 

During Thursday’s media session, Malone let it be known that he and MPJ’s teammates still have the utmost confidence in him. 

“I think people are so quick to dismiss people,” Malone said. “Michael Porter isn’t making shots right now, and we know he is a great shooter. We know what he is capable of. … If he’s taking the right shots and we’re generating the right shots for him, I want him, I want KCP [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope], two guys that we know are better than they showed in three games, they’ve got to keep shooting the ball because that is the only way they’re going to get out of that slump. 

“But we believe in Michael. He is our starting small forward. I have zero doubt he is going to have a very big game coming up here that is going to help us win this championship.”

Porter Jr. Says He’s Still Confident Despite Struggles 

Not only is Porter missing, he’s missing wide-open looks that he feasted on during the regular season, and throughout the playoffs prior to the NBA Finals. Following the Game 2 loss, he even told the Denver Post this. 

“I’m not going to keep missing that many threes.”

While he did do the same thing in Game 3, the former Missouri star isn’t losing confidence. 

“I mean, I wouldn’t even say I’m not feeling confident in my shot, I’m feeling pressure, anything like that,” Porter said. “I’m just missing, you know what I mean? Sometimes the ball just doesn’t go in. I think a lot of shots have been right there, I’ve just missed.

“I know my teammates have confidence in my shot. I know my coaches do. I’ll get it going,” Porter added.

The Nuggets would love nothing more than to see MPJ catch fire in Friday’s huge Game 4. If he does they could he heading back to the Mile High City with a commanding 3-1 lead. 

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