Nikola Jokic

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The Nuggets Are No Joke

Denver’s largest lead was 31 and even that feels closer than it really was.

May 08, 2019 - 12:55 pm

Quick question – what the hell happened in those Game 5s last night? Both of those series were competitive and compelling as hell until Game 5 rolled around. Then Toronto housed Philadelphia. And it was like, all right…that’ll happen. It’s a one off. At least we have Game 5 of the Portland-Denver series. That’s been a fist fight.  No way there’s a blowout in that game…

Denver 124
Portland 98

And it wasn’t that close either. That was not a 26 point game. It never felt that close at all. Denver’s largest lead was 31 and even that feels closer than it really was. Denver came back home and then just ran Portland out of the building.

Denver had it working, big time. And Portland played their worst game in quite some time…at the worst possible time.

Nikola Jokic: 25, 19, and 6. Again, 25 points, 19 rebounds, and 6 assists. He’s putting up those video game numbers with ease. And if you haven’t spent time watching the Joker yet, I suggest you do. Getcha yer popcorn and watch the big fella move and work.

In particular, watch him pass. Because he does things with a basketball that don’t seem possible. Like grabbing it off the bounce and rifling it the length of the court the way he did last night. 

And as usual, it wasn’t just the Joker. Jamal Murray was putting guys in the mixer.

And Murray and Joker were making things look easy.

And then there was Paul Millsap. He absolutely killed Portland. Just one bucket after another en route to 19 points in the first half and 24 for the game.

Look, I don’t want to say the guy glossed Anchorman is old. So I won’t. I just need to find another word to describe pops: seasoned. Or experienced. 

But Paul Millsap is so experienced that he started out his career playing with guys like Matt Harpring and Brevin Knight. And Brevin Knight played with Shawn Kemp and Scott Brooks. Paul Millsap is about two degrees of separation from George Mikan and for a young team like Denver, he is invaluable, not just as a leader, but as someone who’s punishing Portland in the paint.

Michael Malone has taken a team that just missed the playoffs last year and now they're one game from the conference finals this year. It's a team that had next to no playoff experience and now they're getting all the playoff experience. You always hear, act like you’ve been here before. Easier said than done. But not for these guys; they’re balling out like they’ve lived her for years. Especially in the paint and on the glass: Denver outscored Portland in the paint by 22 and outrebounded them by 18. This is where Portland really misses Nurk. They have gone this long without him, but it is finally catching up because they just don’t have the size and physicality to deal with Joker and the Anchorman.  

On top of all that, they are throwing all sort of looks at Portland’s backcourt. Damian Lillard: 9 of 21 for 22 points. CJ McCollum: 5 of 16 for 12 points.

This is a Denver team that looked dead, should’ve been dead, after losing in quadruple overtime on Friday night in Portland. They came back less than 48 hours later to win and tie the series. And now they’re up 3-2. These dudes are no joke.

Absolutely everything went Denver’s way last night, even down to the Joker’s ongoing battle with postgame microphones.

This was Joker on Sunday as he tried to take the microphone off the stand and ended up breaking it.

And this was him last night, pumping his fist and celebrating when he saw that the microphone was already off the stand.

Normally, I’d say when he’s got the mic working like that, this series is over. But it’s not. It wasn’t over when Portland ripped homecourt. I told you then that Denver wasn’t going down without a fight. And then Portland backed up that Game 2 win with the epic Game 3 win. Denver should’ve been finished at that point, but they weren’t. And now they’re in the driver’s seat, but that doesn’t mean this series is over. If this series has taught us anything, it’s that this series is over when it’s finally over. This series will be over when the clock hits triple zeros and someone has four wins.

And Damian Lillard insists Denver hasn’t gotten their best. That Portland hasn’t played their best game. Of course dame said that before last night’s game and they got blown out. What are you saving it for, fellas?  Better have it now, or the season is over.