If the Denver Nuggets do indeed miss this year’s playoffs, it will be among the most egregious pranks the basketball gods have played on a team, a city, and a fanbase. Back in mid-November, right before the fateful injury to Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic was starting to figure out his front court running mate, and vice versa. A 44-game absence by Millsap was enough time for all of their chemistry to dissolve. When he returned shortly after the all-star break, the two would have to go back to square one, only this time with the added hindrance of having every game serve as a must-win game, a 7-game long road trip, and a faulty left hand for Millsap.
It took a bit more time for those two to get in-sync, like two old musicians trying to remember a song they hadn’t played in years. Over the last six games, however, that song is starting to find it’s tune. The 76ers and the Raptors are two of the best teams in the Eastern conference, maybe the best two, and Denver went toe-to-toe with both of them. Against the Thunder, the Nuggets’ dynamic front court duo clicked as well as it had all year.
There were so many great moments in this game between both guys but two moments stand out the most. The first came in the 3rd quarter when Jokic shot-faked and drew Millsap’s defender over to contest the drive. Millsap, who was hanging out in the dunker (and not just in the dunker but far enough outside of the paint for his man to have to take three steps over into help) cut in for the easy dropoff.
The second play came in the fourth quarter, when the Thunder had cut the lead to just three points. Millsap posted up on the block with Jokic as the entry passer. Millsap wasn’t open for the post up so he made a great read to cut high, pull off a swim move, and back cut toward the paint. These are the types of actions Jokic loves to read. Rather than hand the ball off to Millsap 20 feet from the basket, he read the swim move and got Millsap cutting back toward the basket for the floater.
The Nuggets have a +10.6 Net Rating with Jokic and Millsap on the floor together according to NBAwowy.com and it doesn’t even feel like they’ve scraped the surface of their potential. The basketball gods have tried to rob us of this dynamic pairing but the two guys haven’t given up on the season yet. Check out the highlights below and keep your faith! Only takes six wins to get in to the playoffs and to become one of the most dangerous teams in the Western Conference.