Denver Nuggets’ Malik Beasley Continues to Have Success Against Spurs
Heading into the Denver Nuggets’ first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs, many pegged Malik Beasley as a potential x-factor for Denver. After all, the 22-year-old guard had plenty of success against the Spurs in the regular season, having averaged 19.3 points per game on 50.3 percent shooting from the field in the four regular-season matchups.
Beasley knocked down 40.2 percent of his 3-pointers in the regular season on five attempts per game. His strong shooting has continued in the playoffs, as he has connected on 66.7 percent from three in the first three games of the series. Beasley’s shooting makes him an important player off the bench for Denver as someone defenses must be aware of at all times, spacing the floor for Denver’s other guards or big men.
What makes Beasley such a dangerous player off the ball is his elite catch-and-shoot ability. In the regular season, Beasley shot 42.3 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, which was second among rotation players for Denver (Monte Morris knocked down 44.3 percent of such shots). Beasley hit a key 3-pointer in the fourth quarter of Denver’s comeback win in Game 2, as he stationed himself near the corner and waited for the ball to find him, as it often will when the Spurs double team Nikola Jokić or Paul Millsap in the post.
Beasley doesn’t just bring elite 3-point shooting to the table. He is also more than comfortable driving to the rim and using his athleticism to get around, or sometimes over defenders. Beasley’s missed dunk attempt on Davis Bertans in Game 1 was key to energizing the team and getting Denver back into the game. He perfectly fits the mold of a bench scorer with his elite shooting and energy plays.
"What he's shown me is that the moment is not too big,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said ahead of Game 3. “He's playing with great confidence and poise, and he's aggressive. Malik has been terrific for our second unit and he's going to be really impactful in these games here in San Antonio."
In Denver’s Game 3 loss, Beasley stood out with his scoring off the bench. The third-year guard finished with 20 points and nine rebounds, while he knocked down 7 of 13 from the field, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.
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Denver’s impressive bench play was a key theme throughout the regular season, with Beasley and Morris leading the second unit’s offense. Beasley scored 20 points in 11 different games during the regular season, highlighting his ability to catch fire and put up points in a hurry.
“Going into the off-season, (we) charged him with coming back an improved player, more consistent,” Malone said during the season. “He took it to heart, put a lot of time into his craft and he’s come back a much-improved and more confident player.”
As the Nuggets continue their first-round series against the Spurs, Beasley will continue to be a key cog. His scoring, athleticism and energy are infectious for this Denver squad, making his presence on the floor vital for a Nuggets team looking to have an extended playoff run.