The man who was expected to win an MVP battle closest in recent memory has fueled his detractors.
Nikola Jokić can use a bit of that Mile High air because he’s struggling so hard near sea level in San Francisco. Another Splash Brother took the lead in creating a tsunami whose points capsized the Nuggets’ plane in the first two games of their playoff series.
When the series moves to Denver on Thursday, Jokić will have to prove he’s got a playoff spot. The Nuggets have entered this series as the underdog. However, they are being engulfed by Jordan Poole and Steph Curry. In 63 minutes lying on the floor, Jokić scored more than 63 points.
When guarded by Draymond Green, he can also be a weekend fighter pushed around an LA Fitness court. Green’s energy, physicality, and quick hands helped Jokić catch his dribble early and shoot desperate screams off the perimeter. Sure, he finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, but many of those points became assets when he was compared to Kevon Looney. When Denver needed Jokić to stop the Warriors’ momentum, Green was there to imprison him in game 126-106.
Green is an unpleasant task for Jokić. He’s the rare #5 miniball that can keep up with Jokić in any position on the ring defensively and still not be responsible for late game attack. The last time an MVP looked this bloodthirsty against the Warriors was Dirk Nowitzki in 2007. Those “We Believe” Warriors were, in fact, 8 seeds facing 1, but Nowitzki’s temperament and the struggles that came with it. Following in that series reshaped the perception of him until 2011.
Green’s physical defense eventually led Jokić to complain to the officials and earn a second technician. Next month, he’s likely to win his second consecutive MVP, but once the post-season kicks into action, his game will be higher, while Giannis and Embiid’s kicks come in. higher.
Jokić appeared confused in Game 2 when his ego was worse than that of the Nuggets fan, who caught the hand from the “Suns in 4” fan. That series also ended with Jokić’s temper breaking out in Game 4 as they wiped out the mercy of the Sun. The Nuggets were only eight points ahead when Jokić recklessly slapped the ball and slap Cameron Payne in the face. Devin Booker stood up to his fallen teammate and Jokić took the bait, puffing his chest against Booker and earning a season-ending throw.
In November, Jokić’s temper came to the fore again when he shoved Markieff Morris from behind in a win over Heat on November 8. Prior to Game 2, Green believed Jokić was about to break out after a fair performance in Game 1 from Joker.
“I feel like he’s going to try and get on the pitch and give me 40 [points]15 [rebounds] and 15 [assists] next game. He is annoyed and will return with a vengeance tomorrow. ” Green said on the podium after Golden State’s Game 1 win.
Instead, he blew up. Jokić will have two games in front of a home audience to rise to the stratosphere and meet the Warriors challenge. As the Splash Brothers reacquaint themselves with basketball after the season, the reigning MVP pushed Sisyphus’ rock up the hill. There are three Splash brothers and only one of him. Jokić’s all-round game was crucial for the Nuggets, but the extra scoring punch he needed in Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. unavailable.
Game 3 is approaching and one of those death warriors is bound to return to earth outside of the Chase Center. That anger that Jokić showed between plays needed to translate into the property he was looking for.