Some questions from the reporters and answers from Nuggets coach Brian Shaw in preparation to tonight's game against the Thunder.
Did you learn anything from the Thunder vs. Jazz game? (Utah won 112-101)
"Well, if we had somebody that can give us 37, 11, and 8 or whatever it was ... that would be helpful," said Shaw. "No, I mean you learn things. Obviously, Kevin Durant still had a big game. They still had opportunities to win that game coming down the stretch. They were down Ibaka, and obviously Russell Westbrook, so that makes a difference, as well. I anticipate Ibaka playing tonight, so it'll be a different thing for us. It comes down to energy, effort, coming out and competing, and eliminating a lot of mistakes that we've made. Not necessarily things that we saw from their Utah game, but things that we've seen in the two games that we've played them up to this point."
Difference in Kevin Durant without Russell Westbrook?
"He's handling the ball a lot more it seems to me," said Shaw. "He's always a potent offensive weapon and threat, even more-so, so you're getting a bigger dose of him than what you normally would with Russell being out there. I told our team though that to me they haven't missed a beat with Russell out of there because Reggie Jackson is playing so well. He's really grown into a nice player, rounded himself out, he's playing with a lot of confidence, and so they just continue to roll."
What Shaw has liked during Denver's three-game win streak.
"The energy, pace of the game has been good," said Shaw. "They [players] just seem to all be in a better place right now. We hit some adversity going through that eight game losing streak. Defensively, we picked up our energy and that has ignited our offense. Now it seems like everybody is having more fun and playing more loose out there."
Shaw on injuries to Wilson Chandler and Nate Robinson.
"Nate is good to go, Wilson will be out," said Shaw. "I haven't decided yet who will start in his place, but Wilson is definitely out for tonight. It's day-to-day at this point. They gave him the MRI yesterday and it didn't really show anything, but we are just going to be conservative with him and give him some time to get confident in that leg and get strength back."
Any worry as it's same side as previous hip injury?
"Yeah, of course there's worry," said Shaw. "But he's already said it's starting to feel better. He said that when he first felt it in the game the other night it felt completely different than what it felt like before when he tore it, so that's encouraging."
Faried's defense ... playing some center?
"We've done different combinations, especially down the stretch of games where we've had him and Darrell [Arthur] in there at the same time. So, in those situations, yeah he's more like the five," said Shaw. "But the four and five are pretty interchangeable, for the most part. Obviously Darrell has a different skill set, both he and J.J. [Hickson], at that position, but they are pretty interchangeable as far as what we run and what we do."
Trying to get Faried down below the defenses on offense?
"Well, they have to account for him [the opposition]," said Shaw. "That's where he's at his best. If Kenneth was out at the three point line or even out beyond the free throw line, we'd be playing, basically, four against five. We want to put him in areas where he can succeed, where he can do what his skill set allows him to do. And playing below the defense, rebounding, and running out ... those are the things that are his strengths, so we try to put him in as many positions to do those things as we possibly can."
Nuggets averaging almost eight more possessions per game on three game win streak. Shaw wanting more speed?
"We've always wanted to play at a faster pace," Shaw said. "Now we are making more of an emphasis of running after misses and makes. I think one of the things we were guilty of as a team was after timeouts, when I would diagram a play, we might be on defense first and get a stop, get a rebound, and have an opportunity to run, but we would just walk the ball up the court and run the play. We'll get to the play in a dead ball situation when you have to walk the ball up. We always want to try to strike before the other team's defense gets set and we've been doing a better job at doing that."
Shaw learning on the fly as a head coach?
"Yeah, this is my first time, first season being a head coach and obviously I'm learning a lot as we go," said Shaw. "A big part of why I was playing 10 or 11 guys ... well, we've had injuries, we've been relying on a lot of guys to play that weren't in the rotation and that didn't play at all last year. Now they're playing significant roles for our team this year. With that being said, I never knew from one night to the next that I could pencil in this guy for this many point and this many rebounds and assists or whatever the case may be. We don't have a [Kevin Durant] that you can almost pencil in 30 points and eight or nine rebounds or whatever he averages. So, one night one guy might not be going, I can't wait ... so I had to go to the next guy until I found the right combination out there and a lot of times it meant that 10 or 11 were playing. Now after 30-something games with this team, I know them a little bit better now, I'm seeing that we're getting better production by allowing our starters to play more minutes, and cutting the rotation down and now only playing eight or nine guys. They seem to flow better knowing that they are going to get a six to eight minute run as opposed to four or five minutes and then coming out. I'm definitely learning that as I go."
Does roster dictate a faster pace or do you like the faster pace?
"I like it, I want us to be able to do both," said Shaw. "Obviously I want us to be able to take advantage of our speed and quickness as certain positions. We're undersized at the four and the five ... and the one and two pretty much almost every night. Wilson Chandler starting at the three is really the only one that gives us some size at his position. So, we have to be able to utilize our quickness against bigger, usually slower, guys. I've never lost sight of the fact that I also want us to be able to execute when we have to in the half-court because if we are fortunate enough to make the playoffs, the scores are going to [go down]. We're scoring 137, 129 ... there are not going to be scores like that in the playoffs. They are going to be in the 80s and the 90s probably at the most. So, you have to be able to play at that certain pace and be able to execute in that kind of game. So I want us to be able to do both."
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