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Film Friday: Let’s play some H.O.R.S.E.

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re not familiar with Film Fridays, each Friday, I’ll be looking at some recent Denver Nuggets’ games, lineups or something else from a film aspect to try and bring you a piece of content that you’re not getting somewhere else. Feel free to give any feedback positive or negative in the comments or find me on Twitter.

The NBA has been hinting at a H.O.R.S.E. challenge for the last few weeks with the NBA fully under quarantine, and it was going to be interesting to see what would actually come out of this idea. Well, yesterday, we got our answer. A group of eight players divided into two pools of four players will be competing virtually in a winner-take-all tournament.

That group includes former NBA players Paul Pierce and Chauncey Billups. You’ll find four NBA stars in Zach LaVine, Chris Paul, Mike Conley Jr. and Trae Young. Rounding out the group is former WNBA superstar Tamika Catchings along with current star Allie Quigley. I don’t know how the players were determined. It could be these were the only eight people with access to courts in their home, but I do know that there was no love for Denver, outside of Mr. Big Shot.

Could the Nuggets have won the contest with the right person representing them? Absolutely. Nikola Jokic has the strength to make a shot from anywhere. Jamal Murray has the athleticism and creativity to pull off some stuff that will leave guys just accepting a letter, and Michael Porter Jr. has the shooting talent to match anybody on the list. Seriously, check the numbers. All that being said, what would a H.O.R.S.E. challenge look like out of the Nuggets?

H - Starting Strong

This isn’t the best shot you’re going to see on this list, but it would have caused everyone some problems. Obviously, we eliminate the defense in this challenge, but this shot isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. You’re shooting on the wing, which is the least efficient 3-point shot you can find, while jumping three feet backwards at an angle to cash the bucket.

Porter’s shooting stroke is what has had fans raving about him, and it is plays like this that make those fans upset when he’s not getting more minutes. This was a difficult look, and he made it look routine. Everybody in this contest is a decent shooter, but they’re struggling to knock the bucket down consistently. A couple might make it, but we’re handing out a lot of letters to start the game.

O - Extending the Lead

We started the game strong thanks to a step-back jumper from Porter. Now, we’re adding to the lead with rainbow from the Joker. The clock’s running down with an All-NBA defender in his space, but that doesn’t phase him with this fadeaway jumper from long two-point territory. This is the shot you hit that is going to cause some headaches because of the mechanics of the thing.

Jokic has his eye towards the basket the entire time. He hits one dribble to get his separation, and he’s turning and firing. It’s a shot that’s going to look like luck to everyone else, but he’s just that talented. You have some shotmakers in this bunch, but no one is shooting 100 percent. That’s how the lead is starting to grow.

R - Have Fun with This One

This shot didn’t even count for Jokic, and it’s making the list because it was the exact type of shot you’re going to see in a game of H.O.R.S.E. You’re never attempting it in the game. You’re not shooting it normally, and it has no logical reason for it to go in. Despite all of that, he cashes it. He doesn’t bank it in or have it bounce around the rim. He throws a laser that leaves everyone in the building stunned as to how that went in.

“They don’t have to shoot with the same form that you did to make the shot in H.O.R.S.E.” Well, for the purposes of this exerecise, they do. I would love to watch CP3 chucking a ball over his head at the rim as he’s falling in the other direction. We’ve seen Young makes shots from this range, but can he do it with this form? I’m not sure that he or the other contestants can. Add another letter to the list.

S -Setting up the Win

If you’ve ever played H.O.R.S.E. in real life, you’ve attempted a shot behind the backboard. If you were an older sibling, you bullied your younger siblings because the shot was so much easier for you. Murray took the shot from behind the backboard to a completely different level. He’s driving to the basket with a defender on his hip before he busts out some ridiculousness.

He absorbs the contact and flips the shot over the board for a clean make. After it goes in, he just shrugs his shoulders telling everyone else that he just does these things. I know the defenders aren’t there, but hitting a set shot from behind the board is a whole lot easier than driving like Murray just did. The lead is slowly growing, and they’ve set themselves up for a chance to slam the door shut on the final letter.

E - It All Ends Here

As Dr. Strange would say, “We’re in the Endgame now.” Denver has handed out four letters to this point, and it’s time to end the game with an exclamation point. Murray gave them the S, and he gets the honor of giving them the E with the most impressive dunk of his young career. He took a page out of the LeBron James playbook. He lost his dribble, but he flipped it to himself off the backboard for a big two-handed slam.

This is how you want to close things out. You force the issue with a shot that’s going to be difficult for everyone to make. Go after something that is going to leave your opponents contemplating if they can even pull the shot off. Not only is Murray dunking with two hands, which could cause issues for someone like CP3 and Young, but he’s gotta throw and catch the pass off the board while he’s heading to the bucket. Murray’s ending the game on a mic drop, and that’s how the Nuggets are coming out of here with a win.

For those of you that are still here, remember to leave your feedback in the comments or over on my Twitter, and have a fantastic film-filled Friday.