Nikola Jokic explains how he called out Warriors lob play

2022-04-25 09:12
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Credit Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Nikola Jokic was in danger of becoming the first MVP ever to get swept in the first round of the playoffs.

But the Serbian big man and potential back-to-back NBA MVP poured in 37 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists to keep the Denver Nuggets out of harm's way- at least, for now.

Despite not being on the court when the Warriors' most crucial play took place, Jokic managed to contribute to his team defending it.

Player of the Game
Nikola  Jokic
Nikola Jokic
Points 37
Accuracy 14-21
Rebounds 8
Assists 6

Late in the fourth quarter and clinging to a two-point lead, the Warriors had an opportunity to tie or take the lead following a potential successful inbounds pass. Otto Porter lobbed it up to Andrew Wiggins, but the play was perfectly defended by Austin Rivers, giving the Nuggets the ball back.

Jokic knew exactly what kind of play the Warriors were going to run in that spot. Video of Jokic on the bench shows the Nuggets big man shouting "It's a lob!" to his teammates prior to the pass coming in.

Jokic's words certainly paid off, as Rivers deflected the pass, nearly ending the Warriors' hopes at winning. That end would come on the ensuing possession, when Jokic found Will Barton in the corner, who drained the dagger 3-pointer to send the series back to San Francisco.

Somewhat ironically, Jokic was pulled from the floor in that moment for defensive purposes. 

"I think we watch the most film in the league, [so] I just remembered it from the film. They had the same alignment," Jokic commented after the outing. 

Although none of the 143 other teams who faced a 3-0 deficit in the NBA playoffs ever bounced back to advance, the Nuggets became the league’s first team ever to overcome 3-1 deficits in consecutive series two years ago when they bounced the Jazz and Clippers in the Orlando bubble.

"The odds are against us," admitted Jokic. "But we’ve beaten the odds a couple of times, so why not?"

The Nuggets have been in situations like this before. During the bubble season, they came back from down 3-1 in back-to-back series, becoming the first team ever to pull off such a feat.

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