Being favored by many even before the series started, Kevin Durant still didn’t downplay the fact that the Denver Nuggets remain a dangerous opponent and a top-seeded team this year for a reason.
And on Saturday, these beliefs of him came to reality, as the Nuggets went on to claw the first blood of their second-round set, 125-107, through the usage of a balanced attack and gunning tactics.
“They’re the No. 1 seed for a reason. They got a two-time MVP. They’ve got a deep team,” said Durant, downplaying a reporter’s question if he was surprised by the Nuggets’ Game 1 performance. “I’m not surprised. They can go off and win games.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us. We’re looking forward to Game 2, though.”
Six players tallied double-figure scoring for the Nuggets, with three starters cracking themselves up to 20+ points. Jamal Murray led the way with his 34 points and nine assists. Nikola Jokic was brilliant with his 24 points and 19 boards, while Aaron Gordon supplied that energy and hustle at the wing with a 23-point performance.
Behind the collective scoring, Denver clicked on all of their scoring cylinders especially in three-point shooting. They poured 16 of their 37 attempts from beyond the arc (43.2%), as Murray was credited for the majority of makes with his six treys, which includes a momentum shifting back-to-back threes that highlighted their 14-0 fourth-period run to fully leave Phoenix behind.
Durant pointed out that the Suns’ passiveness to shoot the ball played a key role in their defeat. The club just shot 7-of-23 with their threes throughout the match, much lower to their 32.7 attempts average this 2022-23.
“This is a make or miss league,” said Durant. “But if you make more shots than your opponent then you got a good chance to win a basketball game.”
Durant carried Phoenix on a losing effort, registering 29 points and 14 boards to go with an efficient 12-of-19 shooting. As such, his seven turnovers ultimately served a focal concern.
In six playoff games so far this year, he is averaging 3.8 turnovers. Durant went on to make himself accountable for the errors he committed on the weekend loss while expressing optimism that they’ll be able to bounce back in Game 2 on Monday.
“I’ve got to be way more careful with the ball,” Durant said. “I’ve to look to either shoot the ball or make the correct pass. … I dang got near half our turnovers.
“We’ll be fine. I think we’ve just got to play with confidence, shoot with confidence and see what happens next game.”