By Cody Taylor
September 4, 2020 5:21 pm
By Cody Taylor |
September 4, 2020 5:21 pm
Michael Porter Jr. started off the season restart as a key rotational player for the Denver Nuggets but was eventually removed from the starting lineup by head coach Michael Malone after Game 3 during their first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz.
Porter began his stint at the Walt Disney World Resort on fire and was eventually named to the NBA All-Seeding Games Second Team after averaging 22.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and one steal in seven games played.
However, Porter has struggled at times on defense. The Jazz consistently targeted him on defense and would often put him into pick-and-roll situations against Donovan Mitchell. His downfall on defense likely played a role in his benching as Malone opted to add more defensive versatility in the lineup.
The defensive struggles by Porter was a topic of conversation between D’Angelo Russell and J.J. Redick. Russell appeared on the latest episode of Redick’s podcast and the two reminisced about the time when Russell and the Brooklyn Nets took advantage of Redick on defense in the playoffs last year, which reminded Russell of how the Jazz targeted Porter.
I think we ran the same play maybe like two or three times, you ended up fouling out and I was like, ‘Run that again! He can’t play in this game!’ I just remember you walked to the bench and how you felt and I’m watching the playoffs this year and how they keep bringing Michael Porter Jr. into the ball screens. I just feel bad for him! I’m like, ‘Whatever I gotta do to not be this guy!’
To Porter’s credit, Malone later said that he handled the benching after Game 3 like a complete professional. Malone believes Porter has played well given that it’s his first taste of the playoffs and he has added a great source of energy off of the bench.
Porter eventually bounced back in Game 6 and, surprisingly, finished a game-high plus-21 on the court, despite finishing with only two points. He played a key role in the Nuggets coming back from a 3-1 series deficit and has managed to put the defensive struggles behind him.
Porter played mostly mop-up duty on Thursday in Game 1 against the Los Angeles Clippers as the Nuggets lost, 120-97. Denver will look to get back on track in Game 2 and they will once again need Porter to bring that energy off of the bench.
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