All Anthony Edwards Could Do Was Laugh At How Good “Freak Of Nature” Nikola Jokic Was In Nuggets’ Game 5 Win

Nikola Jokic Denver Nuggets
TNT

The Minnesota Timberwolves stunned most NBA followers by beating the reigning champion Denver Nuggets on their home court twice to open their Western Conference semifinals series. Wolves prodigy Anthony Edwards was hamming it up, taunting the Nuggets, and drawing comparisons to Michael Jordan.

I love how so many haters want to turn the page on LeBron James as fast as possible, blame him for every aspect of his team’s shortcomings, and either cling to MJ as the GOAT, or anoint his successor ASAP so they don’t have to be haunted by The King any longer.

But this article isn’t about that. It’s more about how Nikola Jokic, the winner of three MVP awards and an NBA Finals MVP in a four-year span, was discarded, discredited, and discounted even blindingly faster than LeBron ever has been. Denver and Jokic were left for dead. Head coach Michael Malone compiled an edit of all the naysayers to fire the Nuggets up for Game 3, then blasted outsiders for questioning his squad’s championship mettle after Game 4.

With the series shifting back to the Mile High City for Game 5, Edwards was eager to rise to the challenge, or so he said following the last contest.

Welp, the spunky 22-year-old star shot just 5-for-15 from the field for 18 points, while Jokic put up a line of 40 points, seven boards, 13 assists, two steals, a block, and zero turnovers in the Nuggets’ decisive 112-97 win. This time around, rather than talking smack, all Ant could do was chuckle at Joker’s greatness.

It’ll never not be funny how little Jokic seems to care about the sport he’s better than anyone at in the world. Even at the postgame podium, he’s making self-deprecating jokes, with a rather blank facial expression, probably thinking to himself, “How many more weeks until I can return home to Serbia to have dance parties with my friends and race horses?”

You can’t tell me these scenes of pure joy weren’t in the back of Jokic’s mind while he willed himself to grind through another painstaking session with the media:

Jokic was making a joke about his lack of top-flight athleticism and how he seldom dunks the ball despite how tall he is. However, the “freak of nature” label still applies to him because of how freaking skilled he is at 6-foot-11, and how efficient he is despite lacking the physical tool set of some other more naturally talented big men.

Between his shooting range and legitimately uncanny, pinpoint passing ability, there’s nothing even a four-time Defensive Player of the Year in Rudy Gobert can do to stop Jokic when he’s fully dialed in.

In fact, Gobert missed Game 2 when the Wolves rolled the Nuggets 106-80 — and Jokic was actually less efficient on Tuesday night when Gobert wasn’t the nearest defender.

Poor Rudy. Jokic has been destroying him in big games for years.

I’ve spoken my truth about why Victor Wembanyama deserves Defensive Player of the Year over Gobert many times over by now. To be fair to the latter, I don’t think there’s anything Gobert, Wemby, or any defender on the planet can do when Jokic wants to get to his spot. Even if you can shut down Jokic as a scorer, he has so many capable teammates with high basketball IQs around him that the Nuggets can still shine on offense. Not a fair fight.

It’ll take more than Edwards laughing in a state of helplessness for Minnesota to push this series to a Game 7 rubber match. He’ll simply have to score 40 or more — and even then, that might not be enough. If it’s any consolation, MJ didn’t make it to the Conference Finals until his fifth season. Edwards is only about to wrap up his fourth, so to some degree, he’s on the right track.

…Sorry I have to: LeBron dragged the Cavs to the NBA Finals in Year 4, but that’s neither here nor there!

 

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