The Nuggets thumped the Cavs on Wednesday night in a 126-113 win as the Cavs woes in March continued. After the game, LeBron James called into question his team’s toughness, as the Cavs once again struggled mightily on the defensive end of the floor, where they’ve been the second worst in the NBA during March.
A number of Nuggets had big nights, with Garry Harris, Will Barton and Wilson Chandler all scoring 18 or more points on the night. Nikola Jokic, who has become one of the league’s best offensive centers, also had a strong outing with 16 points and 10 boards on 8-of-10 shooting. Jokic’s efficient night included a play where he found himself switched onto LeBron James as he caught the ball in the high post. From there, Jokic had the Nuggets clear it out and went to work, backing James down into the paint where he could hit a spinning hook shot.
The play was the defining moment of the game for the Nuggets as their young star gave one of the league’s best players a little work in the post, but Jokic shrugged it off as just another bucket. When asked about it by reporters after the game, Jokic said it wasn’t anything special, and noted that he felt it was a mismatch for him to have James guarding him in the post.
The thing is, Jokic isn’t wrong. James is a very good defender and is versatile and strong enough to defend 1 through 5, but Jokic is so tall and strong that even with James’ incredible strength, he’s at an advantage in the post. Jokic proved that with his ability to score over James on that play, making it look fairly easy despite some very good defense from James. Now, on the flip side, I’m sure James would consider it a mismatch if he were to find himself matched up with Jokic on the other end of the floor.
Jokic isn’t some kind of wide-eyed sophomore that’s still in awe of playing the likes of James. He’s a budding NBA star and he knows how good he is at what he does, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he would have this kind of matter of fact take on facing James in the post. This wasn’t a shot at James as a player, but more of a proclamation that he feels that he’s more than capable of his offensive skills against anyone in the league.
(h/t CBS Sports)