Nikola Jokic hopes “do-or-die” situation can be liberating for the Nuggets

2020-09-10T11:33:23+00:00 2020-09-10T11:45:56+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

10/Sep/20 11:33

Nikola Jokic doesn’t want to see his team suffocated by pressure ahead of their biggest game of the season.

By Antonis Stroggylakis /

Denver Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic hopes that he and his teammates will transform the “must-win” burden of the upcoming Game 5 vs. the Los Angeles Clippers into a weapon by not letting the emerging urgency take hold of them and instead simply get out there and play their craft.

“I think we just need to relax and enjoy the moment. Everybody is putting a lot of pressure. Hopefully, the next game is going to be better,” Jokic said in the zoom all presser following the Nuggets‘ defeat in Game 4. “Because we are winning or we are going home. For me that’s kind of [makes us] relaxed. Not relaxed, loose. You needn’t get to worry.”

“We all just need to bit a little bit more relaxed and not have so much pressure on ourselves,” Jokic added.

Jokic and the Nuggets are down 3-1 after a poor offensive performance in Game 5. Denver finished with 85 points against the Clippers‘ 96 in what was their lowest-scoring output in a loss during 2019-2020 and their second-worst overall this season.

The “Joker” led the way with 26 points (on 13-30 from the field), 11 rebounds, and six assists while the rest of his teammates had 23 shots out of 65 attempts.

“It’s just too bad that we couldn’t find any rhythm offensively,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said. “And when we did find a rhythm and when we did find open shots, we just couldn’t knock them down.”

The only Nugget who effortlessly made a basket was Michael Porter Jr. The rookie finished with 15 points off the bench on 9-14 shots to go with his six rebounds, having an explosion of 13 points in the second period.

He took just two attempts in the second half.

“The ball found him. We played an offense where the ball moves. He trusts the pass, he trusts the teammates. I think in the second half the keyed in on him,” Malone said. There was a difference of opinions between him and his young player.

“I didn’t touch the ball,” Porter said. “They didn’t do anything differently.”

“It’s really up to the coaches who they want to put the ball in,” Porter added. “Whose hands. We kept going to Jok and Mal [Murray]. They are two amazing players. I just think that to beat that team we got to get more players involved, we got to move the ball better. We can’t be predictable against that team.”

Porter might find the additional opportunities he wants to contribute more in Game 6, Friday.

Photo: Getty Images