Nikola Jokic has now taken it to the next level, proving himself as one of the NBA’s elite players, while venturing into an even rarer stratosphere of the all-time greats who propelled his team to the elusive championship. there is
The two-time league MVP certainly makes up for shortfalls in winning his third straight individual award with a shutout victory over the Heat in Game 5 in Denver on Monday, leading the Nuggets to their first NBA title in franchise history. rice field.
Even if he didn’t improve his record of 10 triple-doubles in a single postseason, the do-it-all center was once again stellar, especially in the second half.
“That’s why basketball is a fun sport, it’s a living sport. You can’t say this is going to happen until it happens,” Jokic later told ABC. “Good, I’m done with my work, so I can go home now.”
Teaming up with fellow star Jamal Murray and an underrated supporting cast behind the Serbian center’s 28 points, 16 rebounds and four assists, the Nuggets open the door to a thorny Heat with Jimmy Butler. He threw in, but the Heat fell just three wins short of their championship challenge. The 8th seed who lifted the championship trophy for the first time in league history.
Jokic finished second in regular-season MVP behind 76ers center Joel Embiid, making him the first player in league history since Larry Bird (1984-86) shared the feat alongside Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain in league history. He will be the first player to win the award three times in a row. .
Instead, Jokic delivered one dominant performance after another, becoming the first player in NBA history to lead all playoff players in points, rebounds and assists throughout the entire postseason.
“He won the first MVP, but his numbers were even better the second time around, and his numbers are better now,” Murray said of the 28-year-old Jokic. “In fact, I think you can get a lot more out of jokes. “
Denver coach and former Knicks assistant coach Michael Malone actually tried to instill the mindset in the team that they went 3-1 going into Game 5 instead of coming from behind in the Finals.
“We’re coming into this as a game we absolutely have to win. We know this is a big opportunity and I think everyone knows it,” Jokic said on Sunday.
Still, the Nuggets looked like the more nerve-wracking team, committing nine turnovers for much of the first half. The Heat missed 10 straight shots early on and the Nuggets quickly took a 12-5 lead, but Denver made 14-of-15 3-point shots and went 51-44 at intermission. And was given a difference of 7 points.
The shooting display produced only one trademark: “Bang!” Longtime Nicks voice actor Mike Breen will air on ABC. He became the third basketball commentator to call at least 100 games of the NBA Finals on television or radio, joining Chick Hahn (121) and Johnny Most (103).
“My biggest concern going into a close match is human nature and the fight against it,” Malone said before the game. “Most teams go up in the air when they’re 3-1. They just relax and kind of take it for granted like, ‘Oh, we’re going to win this.’ I think.
“We know anything is possible. They are desperate, so we have to be even more desperate. must be vacated.”
Malone had to dust off former All-Star center DeAndre Jordan in the first half minutes after Jokic and Aaron Gordon picked up two fouls each in the first quarter.
After missing the entire 2021-22 season recovering from ACL surgery, Murray took most of the regular season to fully recover. After a quiet first half (4 points, 0 of 4 deep shots), Murray made several crucial 3-point shots in the second half. Recent draft picks Michael Porter Jr., Christian Brown and other Denver role players have also had success. He made a big late-game play to help Jokic win the ring for the first time in his career.
“I knew this was going to happen long before I got here,” Murray said. “I had been to the playoffs before, gained experience, watched the team and chemistry grow, and had the belief that we had the same core throughout my career. Okay, then I believed it.”