The Nuggets beat the Raptors in Toronto Monday night, by the score of 106—103. This was the East’s best team by record against the West’s best team by record, and though it didn’t get the hype of Friday’s “Finals preview” matchup, both teams were at full strength, and both teams are rolling, and that made for a lovely and hotly contested basketball game. And Nikola Jokic kicked mondo ass.
Every time I watch Jokic I’m struck again by how incredibly slow he is. He’s slow as shit! Feels like the only way you can make it work when you’re that slow is with cool-ass basketball moves, and Jokic has so many of those. I’d like to draw your attention to the crazy no-look sidearm sling to Jamal Murray in the corner at 2:20, and the one-handed catch and lay-in at 3:53, and the sweet fake-pass alley-oop sequence at 4:10, and then the alert alley-oop pass at 4:20, and the hit-ahead pass for a dunk at 4:35. I could keep going! And here’s maybe Jokic’s coolest play of the night, which didn’t even count:
Jokic had 10 assists in the first half, and finished with a 23-point, 15-assist, 11-rebound triple-double. And lest you suspect this box score dominance was all sizzle and no steak, Jokic hit a go-ahead floater with 40 seconds on the clock, and knocked down three free throws inside the final 10 seconds to establish the final margin. That was a tough-as-nails Raptors team they took down, and watching Jokic trade highlights and clutch plays with a freakish athletic specimen like Kawhi Leonard will never not be fantastic. Jokic’s slow-motion artistry has always been a delight, but now he’s the centerpiece of a very good Nuggets squad that went on the road and beat the team with the best record in basketball. And they did it one slow-ass Jokic highlight at a time.