By the time the Eastern Conference finals begin next week, the Cavaliers will have to pry themselves out of their hammocks, put down their glasses of sweet tea and get back to work. They will have been on-duty just eight times in the previous 31 days, the kind of schedule usually reserved for surgeons and French mail carriers.
In the 26 games after the trade, Jokic averaged 1.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists more in 3.5 additional minutes. He became the centerpiece in what was the league’s second-best offense by adjusted efficiency rating after the All-Star break.
With a core so young, this team is already becoming his, something almost no one saw that coming from a player who was viewed much differently in the NBA Draft than high picks like the Sixers’ Joel Embiid and the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns were.
“They were top picks, and he was the 41st pick (in 2014),” Miller said. “Us being in Denver doesn’t help, Minnesota doesn’t help Karl, but Philadelphia is a pretty big market, they love basketball. Eyes aren’t on guys when they’re the 41st pick. He had a lot to prove.”
Before the media surrounded Jokic after his sixth triple-double of the season, Miller dapped him up and told him to call him later as he headed to the first team bus. It’s an improbable friendship between two men a generation apart.
Obviously, no one could match Isaiah Thomas’s magic Tuesday, but here’s a shout out to Wizards guard John Wall (40 points, 13 assists). Without Wall, Washington probably doesn’t force the Celtics into overtime.
Draymond Green is still the premium Swiss army knife of the Golden State Warriors, doing everything it takes to win. He scored 17 points, corraled eight rebounds, handed out six assists and had a couple of blocks and steals in the Warriors’ easy win in the Western Conference semifinals opener against the Jazz.