For MVP frontrunner, Nikola Jokic, the first-round series matchup against the Golden State Warriors is not quite going to plan. The Denver Nuggets were certainly not the favorites coming into the series, but such domination from the Warriors was unprecedented. And Jokic is especially helpless, and Shaquille O’Neal agrees too.
Game 1 went the Warriors’ way in a dominant win at the Chase Center. The sole bright spots for the Nuggets were Nikola Jokic and guard, Will Barton. Jokic scored 25 points, with 10 rebounds and 6 assists. But the series looked bleak for his team from the onset.
It all bubbled over in Game 2, as the Warriors led by Stephen Curry romped to another win. But this time their physicality not only hindered Jokic’s game but got to him mentally too. After another hopeless performance from his team and a 26-point and 11-rebound effort, Jokic was ejected.
His ejection came as a result of him erupting at the referee for a poor no-call. He only played 28 minutes that game, and the Nuggets quickly spiraled to their second loss.
Game 3 back at home was much closer for the Nuggets, and Jokic elevated his numbers. But they still fell short to a brilliant Warriors team that seems to click in every facet of the game.
Jokic ended his night on 37 points and 18 rebounds.
Shaquille O’Neal feels Jokic’s struggles
Former MVP, Shaquille O’Neal, is no stranger to the reigning MVP’s struggles in this series. Shaq sounded off on the latest episode of his podcast The Big Podcast With Shaq about relating to Jokic. “Big guys play against little guys, we never gonna get the call.”, he said. Before adding on the perks of being a smaller player in the NBA, “The refs always gonna give the little guys the advantage.”
A former big man himself in the NBA and perhaps the most physically imposing one there has ever been, Shaq would know. He is the player that comes to mind when size is mentioned and Jokic’s struggles are not amiss for him.
He ended with some sound but pragmatic advice for the Joker. “You gotta do what you gotta do sometimes.” With the next game being the decider for the Nuggets to avoid a humiliating sweep, Jokic will be pulling out all stops. And Shaq’s advice will come in handy.