DENVER — If the Denver weather cooperates, Nikola Jokic Said he would be taking a dip in a pool when the 2022-23 MVP is announced on Tuesday.
Earned his day in the sun after dominating back-to-back MVPs Phoenix Suns and taking denver nuggets for one 97-87 win in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal series at Ball Arena on Monday night.
Perhaps it’s fitting on the eve of the MVP announcement that Jokic delivered an MVP performance with 39 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and two steals to give Denver a 2-0 series lead.
As voters cast their ballots at the end of the regular season, this MVP contest could be one of the most closely contested races between the leading candidates, Jokic, philadelphia 76ers, joel embied And this milwaukee bucks, giannis antetocampo,
In his typical understated fashion, Jokic reiterated that he doesn’t care who wins the NBA’s most coveted individual award.
“I don’t really think about it,” Jokic said. “Like zero interest.”
Jokic’s full attention is on the Sun. with denver Jamal Murray While struggling through a 3-for-15 shooting night including 0-for-9 from behind the arc, Jokic put aside his pass-first mentality and was more aggressive in looking for his shot. He took 30 shots – the most he had taken all regular season and post-season – and displayed his touch. He hit two 3s, sank floaters and scored on a series of moves in the post.
Jokic scored 18 of his points and shot 7 of 11 in the third quarter as Phoenix devin booker He scored 14 out of 35 marks.
When Murray was asked what Jokic showed with this outburst the night before the MVP winner was announced, the shooting guard held up both of his hands to the stat sheet in front of him and an incredulous look on his face.
“I mean, 39 and 16, five dimes, while everyone else is struggling,” said Murray, who had six points and four assists in the fourth quarter. “Dude, no hesitation with him. Just dominated both down and from the 3. Being aggressive the whole game, building us up during timeouts, putting a whole lot of faith in us the whole time he’s handling it all and everyone’s You are losing your sleep
“I mean, tonight was a perfect example of a twice, potentially three-time MVP.”
When the Suns cut the Nuggets’ lead to a single point twice midway through the fourth, Jokic answered each time with a floater. He buried another floater with 3:25 left to give Denver an 86–81 lead. The sun never recovered.
If Jokic wins his third consecutive MVP award, he will become just the fourth man to do so, joining Larry Bird. Wilt Chamberlain And bill russell,
“I mean, I can’t think of that, my friend,” Jokic said when asked what it would mean if he joined such an exclusive group. “Because I can’t control it.”
Denver coach Michael Malone said that Jokic and the Nuggets are focused on winning a big prize.
“I marveled at his greatness,” Malone said. “I’m amazed at his consistency, his excellence, his ability to find so many different ways to beat you, whether it’s scoring, rebounding, playmaking, not being afraid of the moment.
“There’s so much quality [MVP] candidate, and it will be a really close race. But I know what motivates Nikola Jokic, what motivates himself and the rest of the guys in that locker room, is not the MVP. It’s our journey to try and win the first championship in franchise history.”
Malone said that if Jokic didn’t repeat as MVP, he would hug his star center and “tell him he’s the MVP in my eyes.”
All Jokic said was that he was hoping to rest on Tuesday.
“Hopefully, it’s going to be a sunny day,” Jokic said, “so I can be in the swimming pool.”