DeMar DeRozan warns that the Spurs cannot “get caught up in the crowd” in a winner-take-all Game 7 in their NBA playoff series against the Nuggets.
The four-time All-Star was sensational Thursday as the Spurs raced to a 120-103 victory at the AT&T Center to tie the series at 3-3.
DeRozan finished with 25 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, scoring 12 points in the third quarter and adding another six in the last.
The Nuggets had the best regular-season home record at 34-7 but lost Game 1 at the Pepsi Center, and DeRozan says the Spurs must drown out a partisan home crowd Saturday.
“[We have to play] like we approached it tonight,” he told reporters. “Eager, desperate, but under control, understanding what needs to be done, playing with smarts and it’s fun. You gotta go out there and have fun.
“You can lean on experience, but we gotta come ready, mentally more than anything. It’s going to be tough, we can’t get caught up in the crowd, we gotta understand it’s us versus them and everything is against us. Go out there, play free, play smart and just be ready.
“Your back’s against the wall, it’s literally win or go home. Win or go home, simple as that.
“You know once you understand the meaning of that going into that game, understand that every single second on that court matters, you don’t want to walk off that court preparing for summer, it brings out a different side of you and the guys that have been in a Game 7 understand what it’s like, so we all gotta treat it like we did tonight.”
Headed back to Denver for another one! #GoSpursGo | #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/cEMxT7rvCV
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) April 26, 2019
Something else worth watching come Saturday in Denver: Nuggets coach Michael Malone was less than impressed with a screen from Jakob Poeltl on Jamal Murray in the third quarter Thursday in which Poeltl caught Murray’s thigh with his left knee.
On three occasions during the series, Poeltl has made contact with an opposition player with his roving screens and Malone questioned why fouls are not being called.
“I think there have been some illegal screens that have been missed, and the response from the league [after the Nuggets submitted the plays for review] has been that we’re right,” Malone said.
“But for some reason, they don’t catch them during the game. Obviously, Jamal got taken out on that play. I don’t know if it was dirty or not.”
Poeltl responded by saying: “I think I am setting legal screens. If I’m not, somebody is going to let me know about it. I’m not really worried about it.”