Nuggets Mike Malone on Seth Curry, Will Barton dust up: ‘It’s playoff basketball’

Kurt Helin
NBC Sports

Seth Curry thought it was “sassy.”

Emotions were high, and there was a little pushing and shoving after Nikola Jokic picked up an offensive foul that sent Zach Collins to the ground and into the knees of Will Barton, who took exception to that, then Curry took exception to Barton, and there was a lot of posturing and a couple of pushes. Four guys got technicals. After the game, Curry said the Nuggets have some “sassy dudes over there” and called the Nuggets “frontrunners.”

Denver coach Mike Malone saw it differently, basically telling everyone “you thought this was tough?” Via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN:

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“To me, that’s weak,” Malone said Saturday…. “If that’s chippiness, I mean … I grew up in a much different time in the NBA. If that’s chippiness and you want to call it ‘sassy,’ go ahead. But to me, it’s a joke…

“It’s Will Barton protecting himself from a guy falling into his knees,” said Malone, whose father was an assistant during the Detroit Pistons’ “Bad Boys” days. “It’s Seth Curry taking offense to it. They get into a little minor skirmish — move on. Game 7 will be hard-fought. It will be emotional because of what’s at stake. I don’t think it’s going to be a carry-over from what happened in last game. It’s playoff basketball. It should be a hard-fought game. It should be physical. It should be teams protecting each other.

“Again, that’s a different era when you think about my father when he was with the ‘Bad Boys’ and all that. That [incident in Game 6] was nothing in my opinion.”

Malone is right.

Granted there’s a little “get off my lawn” in there, about how things were tougher back in his day. Except they were. The NBA let the physicality go, the Bad Boy Pistons pushed that envelope, and every team had guys out there to bang bodies and be physical. Different era, the rules were enforced differently, and it led to a different style of basketball. (A slow, dragging, isolation-heavy game that some people remember fondly because of Jordan and Iverson, but many nights was just a slog of ugly basketball and missed shots with the skill beat out of the game.)

It’s the playoffs, suck it up and move on. Game 7 should be physical and intense. That’s the point. Save the tough guy posturing for next season.

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