PHOENIX — Michael Porter Jr.’s confidence is as rare as his 3-point stroke.
After a promising opening round against Portland, Porter suggested he’d be ready for whatever defensive coverages the Suns throw at him in Round 2. Whether the Suns begin with physical but undersized forward Jae Crowder, or rangy wing Mikal Bridges, Porter said it didn’t matter.
“I don’t think that anybody necessarily — If I’m locked in — I don’t feel like anybody can guard me,” Porter said ahead of Monday’s Game 1. “That’s my mindset going in. I’m not looking at it like, ‘Oh, (Crowder) can stop me. He’s good at this or that.’ But he is a very physical defender, he’s a vet in the league, he knows how to play the game, and so it’ll be another challenge for me going up against him.”
In addition to Crowder and Bridges, Phoenix also could opt for Cam Johnson or former Nugget Torrey Craig off the bench.
“They do have multiple players that they might put on me, but my job is just to be locked in and bring energy and effort, and I’ll find good shots and I’ll produce,” Porter said.
In two games against the Suns this season, Porter was held to just 10.5 points on just eight shots per game. Without Jamal Murray, the Nuggets are going to need significantly more production from the second-year forward. Against the Blazers, Porter averaged 18.8 points per game on over 13 shots a night, along with 41% shooting from 3-point range.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone was confident his first round against Portland, where the Blazers tried physicality (Norm Powell) and size (Robert Covington), was quality preparation.
“I think Michael’s seen a lot in a very short, young NBA career,” Malone said. “… First round this year against Portland, they threw different players at him, were very physical, smaller guys, bigger guys, and I think this series will be more of the same.
“… I think Michael learned a lot in Round 1,” Malone added. “How to own your spot, create separation and we also learned as a team how we can help him get open and get looks.”
Against Phoenix’s offensive firepower, the Nuggets are going to need it.
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