Nikola Jokic Already Sounds Exhausted by Timberwolves’ Defense, Depth

Nikola Jokic, Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves took over in the 4th quarter of game one vs the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night, shooting 70% as a team and using their obvious depth advantage to break the spirit of the reigning NBA Champions, just like they did the Suns before them.

An injured Jamal Murray, who the Nuggets need to be their 2nd best player, scored zero points in the first half, 17 total in the game and finished a -22 in the game. Michael Porter Jr, who killed the Timberwolves all season, was a problem (20 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals) … but not the type of problem that was going to ruin the evening for Minnesota.

Minnesota Timberwolves are a problem for Nikola Jokic

Then, there’s Nikola Jokic, who makes the the Denver Nuggets’ boat float. He’s arguably the best basketball player in the world and nearly impossible to stop. In game one, The Joker put up 32 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists.

But, there’s no doubt the Timberwolves present a unique challenge for Jokic and the Nuggets, which showed throughout the contest last night. Much like the rest of the NBA, Denver lacks front-court size and depth, beyond their MVP; a problem the Wolves do not have.

Related: Anthony Edwards is HIM but the Timberwolves are So Much More Than HIM

Throw in all of the rapport and locker room chemistry that Minnesota seems to have built, since Mike Conley replaced D’Angelo Russell at the point guard position last season, at the trade deadline. And suddenly, it appears to be the Wolves who provide quite an uphill climb for the defending champs, not the other way around.

After game one, Joker took to the postgame interview table and spoke with reporters about how much of a challenge the Timberwolves pose. The clip that is making its rounds centers around his appreciation for Anthony Edwards. But the longer version shows more of an admiration for how the Wolves are built, as a whole.

Jokic already exhausted by Timberwolves defense and depth?

At one point, Jokic is asked how the Nuggets are supposed to overcome all the difficulties Minnesota represents, from a defense and size standpoint. To that, Jokic hesitated and admitted that they might need a clone machine to realistically have a chance. The full quote, though (below) is even better.

Reporter: โ€œWhatโ€™s the adjustment that you can make to Rudy Gobert’s length; not only that, them just rotating three fresh bigs [Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid] on you for most of the game? on you?โ€

Jokic: | LONG PAUSE | “Umm… to have a duplicate clone of myself…? And then I can, you know, I can be fresh when they sub another guy I’m gonna be fresh.. I don’t know, my friend, I think that’s why they’re good. They can play big, they can play small, they can put a lot of guys on a lot of guys. They are long, they are physical, they rebound really well, they’re aggressive. I mean, I’m satisfied with the shots that I took. Some of them I missed, some of them I made. It’s a tough game and they are a really good defensive team.”

Obviously, the Denver Nuggets are not going to bow out of this series. They will fight tooth and nail until the very end. But Jokic clearly knows what we all know. That over the course of a seven game series, it is going to be very difficult for a beaten up, depth deprived Nuggets team to hang with the Wolves, especially the way they are able to guard The Joker.

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He almost sounds defeated, which is kind of crazy, given this is only game one. But it’s like he is already planning for how the Nuggets will have to tweak their roster in the offseason, in order to manage Minnesota’s size and depth.

Again, I’m not calling this series over. I’m just calling last night’s game and the reactions afterwards as I saw them.

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