In the lead-up to the Blazers vs. Nuggets series, personnel on the Blazers side have echoed the same thing: “it takes a team to stop Nikola Jokic.”
Enes Kanter echoed the team’s belief in a recent interview, speaking glowingly of a man he’ll spend a good amount of time defending when Jusuf Nurkic isn’t on the court.
“To stop a guy like that, it’s a whole team effort,” said Kanter. “You can not leave anyone on an island by themself. It’s so hard to even bring a double-team because he’s gonna pass the ball and find the open man.”
The Blazers will have to pick what they’ll want to do with Jokic. He didn’t finish in the top-20 in double teams per game like Damian Lillard, but his passing is what’s dangerous.
Jokic finished second in passes per game at 74.9 and seventh in points created by assists with 20.7.
Kanter is right, the Blazers will need to be all eyes and ears to stop the league’s likely MVP.
“To try and stop a guy like that, it’s a whole team effort,” said Kanter. “I think we did a really good job last game. It’s gonna be very interesting to see what we’re going to do against him.”
The message has been received and the Blazers know not just Kanter and Nurkic can contain or even stop Jokic.
During the regular-season both Nurkic and Kanter struggled at times to defend Jokic, which led him to finish the night with a high point total.
Kanter was notably the recipient of Jokic scoring 37 of his 41 on him in an earlier meeting between the two teams.
For the Blazers' sake, hopefully, their words turn into actions.
Stopping Jokic is easier said than done.