Nuggets coach Michael Malone makes interesting comparison between LeBron James, Nikola Jokic
Malone said James is so tough to guard because he can exploit one-on-one matchups while making plays for his teammates if the defense sends an extra defender, much like Jokic can do given his exceptional vision:
“That’s always the catch-22 with LeBron,” Michael Malone said, via Mike Singer of the Denver Post. “If you’re scoring real easily, we got to give them help, double-team. I think like Nikola Jokic, they’re the same in this regard. They welcome that, want an extra defender. .. They can just dissect you with their passing.”
Indeed, LeBron James scored just 15 points in the Lakers’ Game 1 victory against the Nuggets. However, he impacted the game in multiple areas, eventually racking up 12 assists and six rebounds.
For his part, Nikola Jokic starred for the Nuggets in their victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in the conference semifinals. Nevertheless, he had to sit early in Game 1 of the West Finals due to foul trouble, watching as James and Co. seized the momentum and took control of the contest.
Denver will almost certainly have to assert Jokic in Game 2.
The Purple and Gold capitalized on his absence by sending doubles at Jamal Murray, who was constantly under pressure. The Lakers forced Denver’s supporting cast to beat them, which figures to serve them well throughout the course of the series.
Of course, the Nuggets will also have to find a way to contain Anthony Davis even if they keep LeBron in check. AD poured in 37 points and got to the free-throw line at will in Game 1.