By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
After a series of 4 consecutive losses, the Denver Nuggets had an obligation to return to victory against the lowly Pistons.
Now, the victory has come, but that 119-100 scoreline does not at all reflect the values expressed on the court: Detroit feasted in the Nuggets’ area, even going ahead at the beginning of the fourth quarter, partly due to an absent Nikola Jokic in defense.
Despite Jokic’s well-known defensive problems, Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey recently compared Jokic’s offensive half-court game to that of NBA legend Larry Bird (Jokic has the chance to become the first player since Bird to win three consecutive NBA MVP awards).
“He doesn’t rush, and you can’t hurry him or speed him up. He gets where he wants to go by taking his time, using his body, angles, passes…he’s not the most athletic guy in the world, but he gets exactly where he wants to go when he wants to get there“, said Dwane Casey.
The theme of the reigning MVP’s defense is now recurring: in the US, it almost seems like there is an attempt to create a media campaign against him and for Joel Embiid, with references that are decidedly ill-suited to a serious issue like racism, but speaking only of basketball, it seems evident to anyone watching a Nuggets game that number 15 has no intention of trying to defend.
For those who say “it’s just the regular season,” it doesn’t work that way: in recent seasons, the performance of teams in the playoffs has always coincided, in terms of results and statistics, with what they did in the second half of the regular season; moreover, an “inexperienced” team (they are not the Warriors, for example…) at the highest levels of the playoffs will not suddenly be able to switch and decide to apply itself and become competitive in defense.
Even coach Malone had said in a press conference that he couldn’t afford a moment of excessive relaxation from the team in order not to risk losing sight of the goal, and in the post-game, he commented on the result achieved by his team.
“We’ve earned a spot in the playoffs. We’ve won the division. It’s fantastic…let this be the beginning of something special. Now we get back to playing and go running“, said coach Malone
30 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, and a near-triple-double: this is Nikola Jokic’s performance against the Pistons, and yet in some ways, it’s not enough: 29 points and 22 total rebounds given up to the Wiseman-Duren duo give a better idea of what the defensive problem, especially in the area, is for Denver today.
The record, however, reads 47-23, with the top spot in the West, but only time will tell if these Nuggets are truly a playoff team.