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Coach Malone sends a small jab to Bam Adebayo

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 30: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets handles the ball during the game against the Miami Heat on December 30, 2022 at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

In Game 1, the Denver Nuggets faced a significant challenge from Bam Adebayo, the star center of the Miami Heat. Adebayo led his team in scoring with 26 points during the contest. However, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone had an intriguing perspective on Adebayo’s performance.

According to Malone, the Nuggets did not enter the game with the intention of allowing Adebayo to dominate. They held a great deal of respect for his abilities, but they were prepared to accept his 26-point output, given the manner in which he achieved it. Malone stated, “We didn’t go in saying, ‘We’re gonna make Bam Adebayo beat us.’ We came in with full respect for Bam Adebayo, but if you’re gonna score 26 points on 25 shots, that’s something we’re willing to live with,” as reported by ESPN on NBA.

Adebayo converted 13 of his 25 field goal attempts to accumulate his 26 points. While this may not be considered terribly inefficient, shooting above 50 percent from the field is generally preferred. However, considering the shots Adebayo took, one would expect a higher shooting percentage. He missed several close-range attempts and layups against the Nuggets’ defense. When playing as a center near the basket and in the midrange, a higher shooting percentage is expected.

Moreover, some of the shots taken by Adebayo could have been attempted by Jimmy Butler instead. The Nuggets likely feel more comfortable allowing Adebayo to take those shots rather than giving them to Butler. Although Butler has been struggling recently, he has demonstrated greater scoring ability than Adebayo.

Moving forward to Game 2, it remains to be seen how the Nuggets will choose to defend against Butler and Adebayo. Given Butler’s passive performance in Game 1, it is expected that he will be much more aggressive in the upcoming games.

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