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NBA - US Sports: Soul-searching needed by Nuggets

Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone says his team need to figure out what they are "trying to do" after a humbling 124-104 defeat at home to Boston Celtics on Sunday.

The Nuggets are 20/1 to win the NBA Championship outright, while Boston are priced at 12/1.

Denver have managed to compete this season despite the absences of star guard Jamal Murray, who has missed the entire campaign so far, and forward Michael Porter Jr, who has managed just nine appearances.

Play-in looming for Nuggets

The Nuggets have been in the top six in the Western Conference for much of the season but Sunday's defeat to Boston means they are now tied for sixth with the surging Minnesota Timberwolves and look in danger of having to come through the play-in tournament.

Denver were outclassed by the Celtics on Sunday and Malone was particularly unhappy with his team's performance in the second quarter, where they were outscored 35-16.

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The manner of the loss led to the coach questioning his team's mentality and their championship credentials, having benched his starters for the second half.

"What are we doing?" he said, via the Denver Post. "What are we trying to do?"

Malone unhappy with standards

He added: "If somebody's kicking our (butt) and we're fighting and competing, and they're just better than us, so be it.

"But, if we're getting our butts kicked and we're just taking it, possession after possession, heads are dropped, body language, giving in, I'm not going to reward that behaviour. There's principles in life and that goes against every principle inside my body."

If Denver are to make any serious impact in the postseason they probably need both Murray and Porter to return in time for the play-offs.

There were reports both were in line for regular-season returns not too long ago, but it still remains unclear if either will be able to feature again this campaign.

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