On the night Nikola Jokic picked up his MVP trophy, the Denver Nuggets were crushed Friday by the Phoenix Suns and need a historic feat not to be knocked out as the Philadelphia 76ers took a 2-1 lead in their series against the Atlanta Hawks.
Jokic honored his Most Valuable Player (MVP) award with a monumental triple-double of 32 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists but, with little help from his teammates, the Nuggets lost 116-102 and are 3-0 down in the semifinals of the NBA Western conference.
No team has come back from a 3-0 deficit in playoff history. The Suns’ absolute dominance in this series raises concerns that Jokic will be the first current MVP to be swept 4-0 on Sunday since 1989, when Magic Johnson fell by that marker with his Lakers in the Finals against the Pistons.
“Thank you for all the support, not only tonight but since I’ve been here,” said the Serb to the fans of the Ball Arena in Denver trying to extend the recognition to his teammates. «This trophy is not mine, it belongs to all the boys who are here. I want you to clap for them.
After the ceremony, the Nuggets returned to the reality of a tie in which they are surpassed by the solid Suns led by Devin Booker, who had 28 points, and Chris Paul, who had 27 points and 8 assists.
At 36, Paul continues to guide the young Suns, a team that had not qualified for the playoffs since 2010, in an extraordinary playoffs in which they left reigning champions, LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers on the road in the first round.
Denver, who fell by 20 points, was shipwrecked in defense against Phoenix’s greasy system, in which DeAndre Ayton (10 points and 15 rebounds) and Mikal Bridges (11 points and 3 steals) complement the two perfectly. figures.
Argentine guard Facundo Campazzo, loaded with personal fouls, had 6 points, 2 triples, 2 rebounds and 1 steal in just 18 minutes while power forward Aaron Gordon, another starter, was the symbol of the Nuggets’ impotence with 4 points on 2/10 in field goals.
Jokic became the third player in history to accumulate at least 30 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in a playoff game, but the Serbian continues to miss his great partner, Canadian point guard Jamal Murray, who cannot play this postseason because of injury.
“I’m frustrated with myself because I missed shots,” said a self-deprecating Jokic, who finished with a stat of 13/29.
“We did not want to disrespect Jokic’s moment but we had come to win a game,” Suns coach Monty Williams (GG) stressed (AFP)