3 obvious moves Michael Malone must make for the Nuggets to repeat as champions

Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors
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2. Shorten the bench and play the hot hand

This one goes hand in hand with number one, but along with playing Gordon as the backup center, Malone needs to shorten the bench in general and stretch out the minutes for all of his starters.

Much like last year, the stars should see their minutes bumped up to about 40 each for Murray and Jokic. That’s up about nine minutes from the regular season for Murray and six for Jokic. Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each need to see their minutes bumped up from the regular season to about 35 minutes each.

That means the Nuggets should really only go seven or eight deep, only playing a handful of guys for short bursts off the bench. Last year in the playoffs, Denver relied on Bruce Brown for over 26 minutes a game and Jeff Green for over 17. Those guys were rock solid, but they’re gone this year and haven’t been completely replaced.

Malone needs to find the hot hand between the likes of Reggie Jackson, Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, and Justin Holiday. He doesn’t need to play all four of them every game, and if one of them doesn’t have it, Malone shouldn’t hesitate to pull the plug. No bench player has earned guaranteed playoff minutes.

Conversely, if one of those bench guys comes in and starts lighting it up, Malone should stick with that, and ride the hot hand at the expense of the other bench players. There won’t be many bench minutes to fill, but it’s vital that Malone pulls the right strings and survives those minutes when he doesn’t have his starting unit on the floor.