It’s weird the way Michael Porter Jr.’s rant after another Nuggets loss in Game 4 worked out.
The rising “rookie” was clearly frustrated at the time. His field goal attempts had drastically dropped in the second half and he made some questionable decisions towards the end of the game. Because of that, the Nuggets fell into a 1-3 hole and were facing elimination.
In that frustration (or so it seemed), he vented at the post game press conference.
“I just didn’t touch the ball,” Porter said, via The Denver Post. “They didn’t do anything different.”
Youngsters these days, just so quick to speak right off of their minds.
And the vets were quick to react. Damian Lillard (who has extended his NBA Bubble MVP form to NBA Bubble Twitter MVP form) went on a series of tweets and replies. Nikola Vucevic chimed in. Rudy Gay, Jameer Nelson, Larry Nance Jr., Bradley Beal.
Kendrick Perkins probably summarized everyone’s similar message perfectly:
Most felt that this was an issue that should have been discussed internally and they were right. Especially at that point of the season where it was down to one more loss, that was hardly the time for MPJ to voice out his frustration on not getting the ball.
However, if we took a look at his full quote on the topic, he might have had a point. Actually, it might have been the turning point for the Nuggets to complete their historic comeback from down 3-1.
“I mean, that’s really up to the play calls, that’s really up to the coaches, who they want to put the ball in whose hands. We kept going to Jokic and ‘Mal, and they’re two amazing players, you can never get mad at that. But I just think to beat that team, we gotta get more players involved, we gotta move the ball a little bit better. We can’t be predictable against that team,” Porter explained.
“If I’m gonna be out there on the floor playing a lot of minutes, I think I should voice that (concern). I’ll probably talk to the coaches, just tell them what I see being out there on the floor. Just letting them know, ‘Look, they know what we’re doing.’ Like, we gotta swing the ball. We’ve got a lot of players who can play basketball and score. We gotta get some more guys involved,” he added.
On the surface, it just looked like MPJ was venting about not getting the ball. But the key message was that the Nuggets weren’t utilizing the depth of their roster properly. Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic were undeniably going to be the top guys for the Nuggets, but from the third and fourth options (and so on) didn’t have to be any specific player in particular.
But that’s what happened in the two frustrating Nuggets losses in Games 3 and 4. Aside from Jokic and Murray, the majority of shots attempted were made by Porter Jr. and Jerami Grant. The four combined for over 76 percent of shot attempts in both games. Porter, in particular, had 25 attempts in both games, most among the Nuggets aside Jokic and Murray. This made it easier for the Clipper to defend.
Like Porter Jr. said:
“Look, they know what we’re doing.”
So for the final three games, the Nuggets threw curveballs just to keep the Clippers guessing who would step up as the supporting cast.
In Game 5, it was the big second half by Paul Millsap that saw him finish with 17 points on 11 attempts.
In Game 6, Gary Harris had his highest scoring game in this year’s playoffs so far with 16 points on 11 attempts.
In the deciding Game 7, Harris had his second consecutive game of double-digit attempts while Jerami Grant also bounced back for 14 points on 10 attempts.
Of course, as you know by now, the Nuggets won all three games to complete the upset.
It probably was not the result that Porter Jr. had in mind for himself when he expressed himself during that press conference. He went from firing away 8.9 attempts in the first four games to only 3.2 attempts in the final three matches. But it resulted in a resounding victory for the Nuggets and in the end, Porter Jr. can always stand by the fact that he was (partially) right.
The Nuggets had to swing the ball. They had a lot of players who can play basketball and scored. They had to get some more guys involved.
They did, they won, and MPJ will have more chances to touch the ball in the Western Conference Finals because of that.