Lakers Coach Darvin Ham Gives Blunt Response on Stopping Nikola Jokic

Nikola Jokic

Getty Images Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.

The easiest way for the Los Angeles Lakers to slow down Nikola Jokic? Make sure he doesn’t show up to the stadium.

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham was asked about the Lakers’ plan to slow down the two-time MVP and responded with a joke.

“Try to catch him out of his house and kidnap him,” Ham said.

Luckily, the Lakers have Anthony Davis, who is probably the best defensive player left in the postseason. He averaged 2.2 blocks and 1.5 steals against the Golden State Warriors, providing a stiff paint presence that will be valued against Jokic.

Jokic has stepped up in the postseason, especially against the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Semifinals. The superstar big man averaged a triple-double, putting up 34.5 points, 13.2 rebounds and 10.3 assists. During the series, he passed the legendary Wilt Chamberlain for the most playoff triple-doubles (11) as a center.

“Nikola never forces anything. I mean, he’s a guy that literally will just read the game and take what the game offers,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I think sometimes we may take Nikola Jokic for granted because what he is doing is just incredible every single night.”

LeBron James: Nuggets Playing ‘Exceptional’ Basketball

The teams split their season series at two games apiece. And it wasn’t long ago that the two sides faced off in the Western Conference Finals, colliding in 2020 while inside the NBA bubble. The Lakers won that series in five games and went on to win the title.

However, two years later the teams are structured much differently and Jokic can’t even remember any takeaways he had from their last playoff series.

“To be honest, I don’t remember,” Jokic said.

James remembers a little bit more and has a lot of respect for Jokic, who has evolved as a player. He’s not underestimating the challenge.

“They’re better, but they were great then, and they’re great now,” James said. “Joker has gotten two more years under his belt. Jamal has gotten back to his regular form after the injury. And the rest of those guys are playing on exceptional basketball. They’re really really, really, really good team.

“Every game, every postseason, every matchup allows you to continue to grow as a franchise, as a team, and they’ve done that,” James added. “So, we come in with the utmost respect for this team.”

Lakers to See Old Friend in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

One Nuggets player the Lakers are familiar with is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who won a title with LA in 2020. He’s another weapon James knows the Lakers will have to look out for, especially if he gots hot.

“His energy. His energy is second to none,” James said, per The Los Angeles Times. “He plays at a high level every single game. Just his availability, he’s always in uniform. And that’s what separates him from other guys around the league. He pretty much plays every game. And he’s very experienced. So we know what we’re going against. He comes in with energy and he plays the game the right way.”

Caldwell-Pope is averaging 10.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in the postseason. He’s shooting 47.7% from the field, 39.1% from three-point range.

“This series is going to be fun,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We have to go through them guys to get to the championship.”

The series is set to kick off on Tuesday in Denver. The Nuggets are slight favorites in the series, coming in at -150. Denver is a 6.5-point favorite for Game 1.

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