In a game that was big for his reputation, Jokic delivered in a massive way
Nikola Jokic simply could not afford to lose on Sunday afternoon.
The reigning MVP (and likely back-to-back winner) has been good in these playoffs, but not great. He was great against the Warriors in Game 4 and then some. Jokic was spectacular.
“The Joker” had 37 points, eight rebounds and six assists and was dominant throughout. He made several key plays down the stretch, including a brilliant pass to Will Barton who shockingly made a shot to secure the 126-121 win for the Nuggets.
Look, in Denver we know how great Jokic is and just how little help he’s had in this series. Five of the six best players in this matchup wear a Warriors jersey. Jokic is the best, but Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins are all better than the next best Nugget available.
Still, the national media (cough, Nick Wright) has been nauseating to listen to. They slander Jokic and would have had a field day if he had been swept out of the playoffs for a second straight season. It would have marked eight postseason losses in a row and been a horrible way to go into the offseason. Instead, the Nuggets have the tiniest bit of life and the Jokic bashing can chill.
It’s unclear when MVP will officially be announced as the NBA is oddly secretive about it, but now there’s a chance Jokic wins the award while the Nuggets are still alive. Can you imagine if they steal Game 5, Jokic is officially named MVP again and gets his trophy in front of the crowd before Game 6 at Ball Arena? It would be an unreal scene.
By now you’ve seen the stat that no team has ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit about 30 times, but could these scrappy Nuggets be the first? Probably not, but Jokic delivered a huge win for his reputation on Sunday. And fans can take some solace in that no matter what happens the rest of this series.