MIAMI -- Michael Porter Jr.'s shooting, scoring and minutes have dwindled with each game in the NBA Finals.
But coach Michael Malone gave the forward a vote of confidence before Friday's Game 4 and made it clear that Porter is Denver's starting small forward.
"I think so many people are quick to dismiss people," Malone said. "Michael Porter isn't making shots right now, and we know he is a great shooter. We know what he is capable of. ... If he's taking the right shots and we're generating the right shots for him, I want him, I want KCP [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope], two guys that we know are better than they showed in three games, they've got to keep shooting the ball because that is the only way they're going to get out of that slump.
"But we believe in Michael. He is our starting small forward. I have zero doubt he is going to have a very big game coming up here that is going to help us win this championship."
The Nuggets got back on the floor for practice Thursday. Jamal Murray was seen wearing a bandage on his left hand. Malone said his point guard, who had 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the Nuggets' 109-94 Game 3 win, is fine but has a floor burn.
As far as Porter is concerned, the forward says he is just missing shots but that he hasn't lost confidence. Since racking up 14 points and 13 rebounds in 43 minutes during Game 1, Porter has shot a combined 3-for-15 and scored a total of seven points in Games 2 and 3. Porter has shot just 3-for-19 from behind the arc. He also saw his playing time drop to 26 minutes in Game 2 and 21 minutes in Game 3.
"I mean, I wouldn't even say I'm not feeling confident in my shot, I'm feeling pressure, anything like that," Porter said. "I'm just missing, you know what I mean? Sometimes the ball just doesn't go in. I think a lot of shots have been right there, I've just missed.
"I know my teammates have confidence in my shot. I know my coaches do. I'll get it going."
But Malone and other Nuggets such as Murray have continued to express confidence that Porter will start burying shots.
"It's been a couple of rough games for me," Porter said. "I think I played hard defensively pretty good. Still tried to rebound the ball while I was out there.
"For me, shooting and offense is natural. I can't put too much stock into a couple rough games shooting-wise, even though I wish shots were falling obviously. Really, I'm just glad the team won. I know there's going to be a couple games this series where the team is going to need me on the offensive end. I'm looking toward to trying to bounce back in that area as well."