With his incredible footwork and patience once he gets the ball, Nikola Jokic is a hard cover. Just ask the Clippers’ Ivica Zubac, who had an impressive game but fouled out of the Clippers’ Game 5 win trying to cover the Serbian big man.
Or, ask Patrick Beverley, who is incredibly direct, as always.
“Jokic presents the same type of, I don’t know, I wouldn’t say problems, but he presents the same thing Doncic presents, Luka presents, a lot of flailing. You know, puts a lot of pressure on the referees to make the right call,” Beverley said after the game.
Clippers’ Patrick Beverley on Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic after Game 3 win: “He presents the same thing Luka Doncic presents: a lot of flailing. He puts a lot of pressure on the referees to make the right calls.” pic.twitter.com/KB7Hs8dTsr
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) September 8, 2020
When told of Beverley’s comments, Jokic — always careful in interviews because English is his second language and he doesn’t want to misspeak — first asked what “flailing” meant. Then he had a great response (via Mike Singer of the Denver Post):
“They had 26 free throws, we had 10.”
This is also true, and the Clipper big men — Zubac and Montrezl Harrell — combined for 17 of those trips to the line. The Clipper big men are aggressive and do not back off looking for fouls.
Neither does Kawhi Leonard or Paul George. Or Nikola Jokic. Or the rest of the best players in the league. Everyone is trying to draw fouls and put pressure on the referee. All of them do some flailing (ever watch James Harden?). I don’t know that Luka Doncic or Jokic do it any more than many American players. Welcome to basketball.
Working the officials through the media in a tight series is a time-honored tradition Beverley has joined.