The chatter around the Game 2 correlational performance of Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets isn’t amusing at the side of Erik Spoelstra.
In his postgame presser, the Miami Heat head coach dismissed the notion of making Jokic either a scorer or a passer in order to determine and control the Nuggets’ operations throughout the game.
“That’s ridiculous. That’s just – that’s the untrained eye that says something like that,” Spoelstra said. “This guy [Jokic] is an incredible player. Twice in two seasons he’s been the best player on this planet. You can’t just say, ‘Oh [let’s] make him a scorer.’
“That’s not how they play.”
For context, though Jokic feasted with a game-high 41 points, he only dished out four assists as Denver failed against Miami in Game 2 to lose the series’ home-court advantage.
Jamal Murray was the only one who provided him with ample scoring help with 18, but the rest of the team wasn’t able to contribute well toward a stronger offensive punch.
Jokic’s Sunday scoring explosion against Miami marks the third time this postseason that he exploded for 40+ points. Despite the individual feat, all those three games he shattered the scoreboard and coincidentally handed winless results for Denver.
Regardless of the connection between Jokic’s scoring outburst and his supporting units’ failure to capitalize on his playmaking wizardry, Spoelstra insisted that the two-time MVP and the Nuggets deserve more respect in terms of countering them with the series now down to a best-of-five set.
“They have so many different actions that just get you compromised. We have to focus on what we do. We try to do things the hard way, and he [Jokic] requires you to do many things the hard way,” he said.
“Man, he has our full respect.”