Despite being short-handed without three starters, the imposing Denver Nuggets remain a steamrolling force, occupying the third place (9-4) of the wild, wild Western Conference with their sheer defensive performances so far in this 75th season.
As such, from the words of the team’s head coach Michael Malone, these things are not possible if reigning MVP Nikola Jokic’s presence is unavailable.
Speaking after an emphatic 124-95 home victory against the Damian Lillard-less Portland Trail Blazers, Malone gave credit to the impactful, underrated defense of the Serbian superstar for holding off the opponent in less than 100 points.
“He’s an easy mark because he’s not that shot-blocking, athletic guy that’s making plays at the rim…We have the No. 2 defense in the NBA after 13 games — Nikola’s the anchor of our defense — he’s doing something right.”
Jokic propelled the Nuggets with his near triple double demonstration of 28 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists — highlighted by the clamping of counterpart Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic who only had 4 markers and 6 boards in the whole duration of the clash.
With the recent win on Sunday night, the Nuggets have limited their opponents below 100 points in 10 times out of 13 games so far this season — as they are currently ranked 2nd in defensive rating (101.6) behind the Golden State Warriors (99.6).
The Nuggets will travel to Dallas for an inter-conference battle against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks on Monday.