Ohm Young MisukESPN Writer3 minute read
The Denver Nuggets returned to practice on Friday as they still wait to see who they will face in the NBA Finals.
The Nuggets haven’t played since sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers in Monday’s Western Conference Finals, meaning they’ll have nine days off before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. which is scheduled for June 1, no matter when the Eastern Conference Finals. decides between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat.
“It’s impossible to keep up the pace if you’re not playing,” Denver head coach Michael Malone said after practice Friday. “You can do whatever you want in practice, but there’s no way you can replicate an NBA playoff game.”
The Nuggets were absent on Tuesday. Some players came in for an optional practice day on Wednesday and did some conditioning on Thursday before taking part in practice on Friday. They have to train on Saturday.
“For us, my biggest concern is pace, but more importantly conditioning,” Malone said. “You’ve been playing every other day for so long, and now all of a sudden you have an eight, nine, ten day break, whatever. I wanted to make sure we were going up and down, conditioned.”
Despite not knowing their opponent in the Finals, the Nuggets are honing things more mentally than physically to stay on top of their game.
“Just our awareness, especially we have to lock down practices for the details,” point guard Jamal Murray said of what the Nuggets are trying to work on during this break. “Let’s be on time, let’s not have any turnovers, let’s do scripts, just simple things so we don’t get sloppy just because we’re where we are. I think it’s more those days of conscience We know our bodies will be in order by then June 1, so just make sure our minds stay sharp and locked in throughout these days.”
Murray said the Nuggets are taking the break to rest and get healthier, nursing lingering injuries to be ready to play Game 1 next week. But they also want to maintain the urgency after playing some of their best basketball against the Lakers.
“We take the rest,” Murray said. “But you don’t want to pick up bad habits all week long. Stay sharp no matter what. If we have to flip the switch and lock in for a drill or two, let me do it. Just being able to stay locked up.
“We don’t want to relax. I think that’s the most important thing. We don’t want to relax and just wait. We want to stay sharp.”