By Antonis Stroggylakis / firstname.lastname@example.org
How do you say “load management” in Serbian?
You probably don’t.
Maybe this is why Nikola Jokic rejects even the idea of skipping a match to get some valuable rest since it goes against his mentality and the way he learned to approach the game and the competitive aspect of it while growing up.
It’s a Serbian thing.
“He [Jokic] takes tremendous pride in his Serbian heritage. And as he always says, Serbian guys don’t sit out,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said after the win of his team over the Toronto Raptors. “Which I respect the hell out of but you also have to be smart about it. So any time you can get him rest and not play him that’s only going to help him.”
Jokic hasn’t missed a single game out of the Nuggets‘ 63 contests in the 2020-21 so far, something which is absolutely tremendous, if not insane. The 28 minutes he got against the Raptors was kind of an anomaly regarding his usual playing time, as it was just the ninth match for him this season with less than 30 minutes.
The Serbian MVP frontrunner didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter and finished with 19 points (on 8-13 shots) and 11 rebounds to help the Nuggets register their fifth straight win and his coach to get victory no. 300 in his career.
“I constantly have communication and conversations with Nikola about potentially resting, knowing how tired he is, not just physically but mentally as well,” Malone had mentioned while answering a question on the importance of reducing Jokic’s minutes ahead of the trip to Los Angeles and the final stretch of the regular season. “He’s a tough cookie man. He doesn’t want to take the night off.”
Jokic is playing a lot and is producing even more to retain the Nuggets’ “contender identity” even in the absence of injured star Jamal Murray. So far this season, the big man has been averaging 26.2 points, 10.9 rebounds and 8.3 assists, being possibly the most unstoppable offensive all-around force right now in the league.
Photo: Getty Images