Los Angeles Lakers eight-time NBA All-Star Anthony Davis (Bill Moore)

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic hears the opinions regarding his legacy. The 28-year-old 2014 second round pick from Serbia, an unlikely all-time great player, is well aware that his back-to-back NBA MVPs in 2021 and last season won’t completely validate him in the view of many as one of the game’s historical best unless he wins a championship. 

Similar to Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton and other Hall of Famers who ended their brilliant careers without a title, the narratives when comparing Jokic to his contemporaries such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, a two-time league most valuable player (2019, 2020) who carried the Milwaukee Bucks to the championship in 2021 and earned the Finals MVP, will be less approving. 

But the big man who finished second in the MVP voting this season to the Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid—Antetokounmpo was third—is moving closer to getting to the game’s largest stage. While Embiid, who is also pursuing his first title, has the 76ers up 3-2 in their Eastern Conference semifinals series versus the Boston Celtics, Jokic and the No. 1 seed Nuggets took a 3-2 lead over the No. 4 seed Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night at home with a 118-102 win. 

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His dominant 29-point, 13-rebound, 12-assists night followed a 53-point, 11-assists performance on Sunday night in a 129-124 Game 4 loss. Tuesday marked Jokic’s 11th career playoff triple-double in his 58 games played. 

“To be honest, I just like to win the game, so whatever it takes,” Jokic said of his massive numbers. 

In 10 games this postseason, Jokic is posting 30.6 points, 13.1 rebounds and 9.5 rebounds per game. The Suns have received consistently strong performances from their two superstars, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, but have not had the necessary level of production from the players surrounding them that Jokic’s supporting cast has generated notably guard Jamal Murray. The Nuggets will look to close out the Suns on the road in Game 6 tonight. A loss would force Game 7 in Denver on Sunday.

The No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers took a 3-1 lead into San Francisco last night (Wednesday) with the objective of ending the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors season in the other Western Conference semifinal pairing. The No. 6 seed Warriors continued their uneven play this season in Game 4 on Sunday, falling to the Lakers 104-101. It wasn’t mega-stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis that put the Warriors on the brink of going on vacation, but reserve guard Lonnie Walker IV, who came off the bench to torch them for 15 points in the fourth quarter.

“…The greatest feeling you could ever imagine,” said Walker afterwards. “As a kid, this is something I’ve been dreaming of.”

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