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Jokic Sluggish-Walks Nuggets Into NBA Closing 4 With Methodical, Unselfish Method

DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic is something however flashy and by no means appears to be in a rush to get the place he’s going.

After main the Denver Nuggets to a series-clinching shellacking of the Phoenix Suns, Jokic deliberate to unwind this weekend by watching his beloved horses race in Europe and getting in some much-needed daddy-daughter time in the pool with 20-month-old Ognjena.

Easygoing — identical to his recreation.

With Jokic’s methodical play and folksy personality main the best way, the Nuggets have overpowered Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Cities, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker en path to the Western Convention finals towards LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Whereas the Nuggets are one in all six NBA groups by no means to succeed in the Finals, that is the primary time they have been the top-seeded crew within the West, and their .851 homecourt profitable share is the perfect within the league.

Jokic could not have captured a 3rd consecutive common season MVP award, this yr that trophy went to Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid. However center from Serbia does not appear to thoughts.

All that pursuits him — in addition to household and his prized horses — is an NBA title. Towards Phoenix, Jokic averaged a triple-double — 34.5 factors, 13.2 rebounds, 10.3 assists — over the six video games. He additionally shot practically 60% from the ground.

“Jokic is an all-time nice,” Durant marveled, chiding anybody stunned by Jokic’s night-in and night-out effectiveness. “Going to go down as one of many all-time nice facilities to ever contact a basketball.”

With Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. again from accidents, Jokic wasn’t supposed to hold as a lot of the load this season however he nonetheless put up stellar numbers in guiding the Nuggets to the perfect report within the West.

His 29 triple-doubles within the common season have been by far essentially the most within the league, greater than double the 14 recorded by Sacramento Kings energy ahead Domantas Sabonis. The Nuggets have been 27-2 in these video games.

The 6-foot-11, 285-pound Jokic does issues at his tempo — utilizing a few of the 24-second clock to lumber down the courtroom, extra to submit up, leaning this manner, then that, backing in, spinning or pivoting and the remaining to attain or ship a did-he-really-just-do-that? cross.

He is additionally made large strides in a class that is not on the stat sheet — management.

“Not solely discovering his voice however being comfy together with his voice,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone mentioned. “All season lengthy there have been so many alternative examples … whether or not it’s in a timeout huddle, within the locker room, at observe, earlier than a recreation in Houston when he gathered the troops collectively as a result of we knew he didn’t like the best way they have been warming up.

“He’s needed to perform a little much less this yr” on the courtroom, Malone mentioned, “as a result of we’re wholesome.”

It is a crew that beat Denver in 5 video games in its final go to to the West finals, the 2020 playoffs held contained in the NBA bubble.

“It is a terrific problem, in fact,” Jokic mentioned. “It’s good to play your recreation, belief your recreation, don’t let something disturb you.”

Regardless of his stellar season, Jokic got here up brief within the voting to develop into fourth ever back-to-back-to-back MVP and becoming a member of Invoice Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Chicken.

One factor Jokic does not have in frequent with that trio is a championship ring.

However he does have recreation — and within the NBA, recreation acknowledges recreation it doesn’t matter what it seems to be like. Jokic has reached 300 factors, 100 rebounds and 100 assists in a postseason for the third time in his profession. No different Nuggets participant has completed the feat, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Jokic does not have an Adonis physique like so many NBA gamers. He does not bounce out of the health club or placed on a present like a number of of his fellow All-Stars. He simply constantly makes jaw-dropping passes and candy pictures from anyplace on the courtroom, typically firing passes with laser-like precision from one finish to the opposite.

“Completely unselfish,” Suns coach Monty Williams marveled. “Simply cares about profitable.”

Jokic has lengthy joked that he is some extent guard trapped in a middle’s physique.

Requested about that, Durant, the 2014 MVP, mentioned: “I wouldn’t say some extent, properly, yeah, I assume. … There’s no restrict or ceiling that you may placed on him. You may’t simply name him a terrific passer or a terrific large man.

“He is only a nice basketball participant.”

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