When Rachel Nichols asked Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic about how the Nuggets developed team chemistry in the bubble for this historic postseason run, Jokic responded, “Not just postseason…(Our team chemistry) has been developing a lot of years ..we have just been improving… we have talks..we have fights…”
They are a true family and that has been the deciding factor in these unprecedented Bubble seasons and playoffs.
The Clippers were supposed to be a shoo-in to meet the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. But in this Disney Bubble, objects in the mirror are not as close as they appear and being in tune with your teammate on every level seems to be the deciding factor in winning or losing a series.
This was Kawhi’s first season in LA and the conditions of the pandemic surely stunted their development.
The Denver Nuggets proved to be the well-oiled machine and the team of destiny during this COVID-19 pandemic after last night’s Game 7 win over the Clippers to advance to the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers. It will be the Nuggets first trip to the Conference Finals in 11 years.
In a season that is unprecedented, unpredictable and distorted but not devalued, the Denver Nuggets kept with the theme of entering uncharted waters and became the first squad to recover from a 3-1 deficit two times in the playoffs.
First they stunned Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz with Jamal Murray leading the way and dropping 40 and 50 pieces.
While sticking to his social justice duties.
Denver would need additional superstar help to defeat the talent-laden Clippers and Nikola Jokic became that second force from the inside and outside; a matchup nightmare for the Clippers. Murray dropped 40 and Jokic came with a LeBron James type of triple double (16 pts, 22 rebounds, 13 Dimes).
The Bubble burst for Kawhi and the Clippers and really it’s OK. The Clippers didn’t get a full season to mesh. Neither did the Lakers, the other heavily-favored title favorite. Chemistry matters in hoops. The Celtics are still a work in progress as well. They’re still trying to work out how Kemba, Tatum and Brown will share the ball. Jimmy Butler just arrived in Miami this year. He has galvanized that squad pretty quickly but they still have not been through the wars as a team yet.
Young, Hungry And Acquainted
Now compare those teams to a Nuggets squad with a young nucleus that’s been together for some time now and are blossoming in front of our eyes in the Bubble.
This is Jamal Murray’s 4th year in Denver since being drafted in the 2016-17 season. He’s been rising through the ranks, but has never averaged more than the 18.5 ppg he averaged this season. He’s averaging over 27 ppg inside the Bubble and is riding an unbelievable high.
His sidekick, Jokic, arrived in Denver a year prior. The big guy is averaging 19.9 ppg during the regular season and is averaging over 25 ppg in the postseason.Jokic and Murray have been building chemistry for five years together.
Denver’s two superstars have played together longer than any tandem or trio of All-stars they will be facing. Oh…and rookie Micharl Porter Jr. is a straight dawg. If the Clippers and Doc Rivers’ vaunted defense didn’t neutralize Denver’s offense then the Lakers will have a hard time with it too. That’s why Denver has a great chance to survive the game and win the unfathomable 2020 NBA Bubble season.