Paul Millsap likened Nikola Jokic to Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady after the 7-footer led the Nuggets to victory over the Trail Blazers in Game 1 of their second-round NBA playoff series.
Just two days after defeating the Spurs in Game 7, Jokic put up 37 points in the 121-113 victory, making 11 of 18 shots and all 12 free throws to go with six assists and nine rebounds.
Jokic clocked an impressive 41 1/2 minutes after playing 43 1/2 against the Spurs. But Millsap said even more remarkable is his teammate’s ability to always make the right decision, similar to Brady.
“He’s a sponge,” Millsap said of Jokic. “He picks it up. He sees how people are playing him and guarding him and he makes the right play every time.
“That’s what’s great about him, he doesn’t force anything. Everything is going to be the right play. He’s going to make the right reads. He’s like a quarterback out there.
“I consider him like a Tom Brady, he’s always going to pick you apart and make the right reads. I commend him for doing that at this stage in his career. It’s unbelievable.”
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— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) April 30, 2019
On his performance, Jokic added: “I was a little bit more aggressive. We found a way to win the game. That’s the most important thing.”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone was impressed with the way his team managed to go again so quickly after an emotional win over the Spurs.
“Saturday night, an emotional high, winning a Game 7, that was part of my biggest concern about tonight,” he said. “Obviously you’re worried about guarding them but how would we react from that emotional hangover? I thought our guys did a pretty good job.”
Damian Lillard, who starred for the Trail Blazers in their first-round series win over the Thunder, had a game-high 39 points but also finished with six turnovers and missed eight of his 12 3-point attempts.
One boost for the Blazers was the sight of Enes Kanter putting up 26 points after separating his left shoulder against the Thunder.
“Enes was terrific, very efficient, finished around the basket playing through the shoulder injury,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “I couldn’t have asked any more of him.”