The Golden State Warriors will have their hands full come Saturday, when they host the Denver Nuggets at Chase Center.
Nikola Jokic practically willed his team to the sixth seed in the Western Conference, despite the absence of Jamal Murray all season, and Michael Porter Jr. out for most of the season. Jokic has to rely on his skills and basketball IQ to figure out ways to help his teammates succeed.
After averaging 27.1 points, 7.9 assists, and 13.8 rebounds, the defending MVP is right back in the thick of the MVP discussion and has a great shot at winning it again this season.
Despite his success, Jokic has always been labeled as a boring player who would never get highlights on Sportscenter or a high-flying dunk like much of his counterparts. That’s why some people are so dumbfounded as to why Jokic could very well be on his way to win back-to-back MVPs.
The Warriors know there is only so much they can do in terms of stopping Jokic on the court, so they are focusing on minor nuances in his game they can control.
Gary Payton II was asked by reporters after April 13 practice in regards to what the team plans to do with Jokic’s signature full court pass play, that usually catches opponents off guard.
“He [Kerr] used the word unacceptable, Payton II says. “I think it’s unacceptable. We have to take that away. Once he gets back down there quarterbacking, he picks teams apart. We are aware, we’re locked in, and he doesn’t get breaking clipboards and things.”
Allowing these easy buckets will for sure get Kerr fuming, maybe not breaking clipboards. But there are simply just too many facets of the Serbian’s offensive game the Warriors need to prepare for, and the Warriors will need to get back on defense immediately to avoid these easy transition buckets from the Nuggets.
Andre Iguodala Talks About What Makes the Nuggets Work
Iguodala has always been known to provide fantastic insight as to what he sees on the court with his own team and opponents. After practice on April 14, the 18-year veteran spent a couple minutes giving a breakdown on the entire Nuggets rotation.
“He’s [Jokic] just really dynamic,” Iguodala describes the Nuggets offense. “He draws a lot of attention. They are so in line and in tune with each other. It’s like a machine, like knowing when to cut and how to cut.”
Much has been said about how Jokic’s teammates are not that good and they would have trouble even winning 30 games if not for the MVP, but like Iguodala says, it does take a certain type of synergy—knowing when to cut and when to space the offense—for the Nuggets to have won 48 games this season.
Warriors Went 1-3 Against Nuggets During Regular Season
So, how much exactly should we take into account the season series between the two teams?
Frankly, we should only take it with a grain of salt.
Only two games from the four should be worth evaluating. The other two were game where their were too many players missing, so it’s tough to see how that would provide much insight to their upcoming playoff matchup.
The February game was noteworthy because that was one Dub fans know got away—a go-ahead three pointer at the buzzer by Monte Morris. Leading the entire game, that was a game the Dubs had in control. This is definitely something the Warriors could use in the film room to make sure they can avoid certain mistakes down the stretch.
The most recent game in March is definitely one that we could very well see in their playoff series. Trailing by almost double digits in the first half, the Warriors flipped it on defensively and held the Nuggets to 18 points in the fourth quarter. This was also the game when the trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Jordan Poole were unlocked on the court. All three played a key role in securing the win as the game winded down.