Thanks to their hot shooting and defensive approach against Nikola Jokic, the Portland Trail Blazers secured a crucial Game 1 victory over the Nuggets. As the schedule shifts to Game 2, a panel of ESPN experts focused on how the Nuggets must find a way to unlock Jokic’s passing on in order to avoid another loss.
ESPN’s Andrew Lopez listed Jokic’s paltry assist total inside his Game 1 takeaways.
How will Denver get players not named Nikola Jokic involved? The Blazers’ strategy of letting Jokic score and not allowing him to get his teammates involved worked, as Jokic finished with one assist. Granted, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, the Nuggets went 1-of-10 on Jokic’s passes. “They made me work for it on every possession. They kind of took other guys out. I couldn’t get other guys involved, maybe. Just because of the assists, I’m saying that,” Jokic said postgame. If the Nuggets want to reverse their Game 1 result, other shots are going to have to fall.
ESPN’s Royce Young echoed Lopez’s analysis.
The Nuggets have to find ways to unlock the magic of The Joker. The Blazers scheme was to let Nikola Jokic score as much as he wanted and limit his dynamic playmaking by playing straight up individual defense. The Nuggets need to create the space and opportunity for Jokic to tap into all the parts that are going to make him the MVP this season.
In the regular season, Jokic averaged 8.3 assists per game. In Game 1, Jokic recorded one assist in 35 minutes of action.
You can read the complete story from ESPN’s panel by clicking here.