DENVER – Coach George Karl, noting his team did not play with the necessary energy in Game 2, strongly indicated Wednesday the Nuggets will make one lineup change and possibly two when the series with the Warriors resumes Friday in Oakland.
Karl is “definitely thinking” about putting Kenneth Faried, who came off the bench Tuesday in his return from a sprained ankle, back in the opening lineup. It is a especially predictable move with the two days off before Game 3 giving Faried additional time to regain his stamina.
But the Nuggets are also weighing the possibility of benching center Kosta Koufos after his Game 2 of two rebounds, two fouls and zero points in 14 minutes.
Asked after Wednesday’s practice at the Pepsi Center how strongly he was considering the change at center in addition to the expected move with Faried at power forward, Karl said, “Probably enough to bet on it in Vegas.”
The Nuggets have several options to replace Koufos. They could promote JaVale McGee – Karl likes him with the second unit – or reach deeper into the bench for Timofey Mozgov. Or they could put Faried at center and hope his relentless energy compensates for giving up four inches to Golden State’s Andrew Bogut and keep Wilson Chandler at power forward.
No matter what, Karl wants to see increased energy in the wake of the 131-117 loss that tied the best-of-seven series at 1-1 with the next two games at Oracle Arena.
“What I told the team, I thought we played a regular-season game in a playoff intensity,” he said. “I think we’ll learn. We’ll learn that desperate teams are dangerous and desperate teams that shoot the hell out of the ball are really dangerous. I think we’re OK. I think we’re fine. I never thought this was going to be anything except a close series. Every game we’ve played has basically been a fourth-quarter (outcome) or a very small differential. The process depends on the momentum of the series. It changes back and forth. Now it’s our turn to change the momentum back when we go to Golden State.”
So why didn’t the Nuggets bring the proper energy?
“It’s not the proper energy,” Karl said. “I think we played hard. We just didn’t play playoff hard. There’s a difference. Desperation, urgent teams, it happens all the time. Chicago outworked Brooklyn the other night. I think we’ll learn our lesson and it won’t happen again.”