We Can Pod It Out 127: While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Do Nikola Jokić's assist totals offer a road map to beating the Nuggets?
Yesterday, we talked about the Heat changing defensive focus in light of the fact that they can’t actually stop Nikola Jokić, with Game 2 of the NBA Finals going so differently than Game 1 as Miami gave the two-time MVP more shooting options and fewer passing lanes.
Today, we visualize that… here’s a graph of Jokić’s games this season, including playoffs, with assists going up as you go left to right and points going up as you go bottom to top.
You can see, even without the axes labeled (sorry), that there’s a fairly basic principle here of “if we can keep Jokić from racking up the assists (the center line is 10), we’ve got a fighting chance.” That one game all the way on the right, Jokić’s 17-assist game, it took 39 points from Kevin Durant and 47 by Devin Booker for the Suns to beat the Nuggets in Game 3 of the second round. Miami does not have Kevin Durant and Devin Booker.
Obviously, it’s not a be-all, end-all, as the Nuggets won plenty of Jokić low-assist games. You can also see why, after getting worked so badly in Game 1, the Heat made the adjustments they did. Steve Kerr and Draymond Green chatted about it, too, and that conversation is definitely worth a listen.