Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets’ model of consistency, is Denver’s best hope vs. Golden State

Jokic’s work ethic, not to mention his adherence to routine, has become legendary around Ball Arena.

Mike Singer
The Denver Post
Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets passes the ball to the referee during the first quarter against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, March 24, 2022.
AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post

Two hours before every game, without fail for the past seven years, you can find Nikola Jokic working his elbow jumper or perfecting his soft baseline touch.

Ever since he arrived on the NBA scene for the 2015-16 season, Jokic’s pre-game shooting routine hasn’t changed. He assumes his shooting time as arena workers shuffle around the court and teammates slowly filter into the locker room.

It’s almost always quiet, bereft of the commotion from autograph seekers, and Jokic can work in peace. On occasion, Felipe Eichenberger, Denver’s strength coach and one of Jokic’s best friends, will queue up a playlist featuring Balkan hits. Other than that, it’s business as usual.

What’s unusual about Jokic’s shooting window is that it’s a time slot typically reserved for fringe rotation players or guys signed on two-way contracts. But because it was the shooting window Jokic was assigned when he got to Denver as an unheralded prospect, and because he’s found success with it, the reigning MVP never found a reason to change.

Seven seasons later, as the Nuggets prepare for their fourth straight postseason and Jokic stampedes towards a second consecutive MVP award, the reason 6th-seeded Denver has a reasonable chance at upsetting No. 3 Golden State is because of the Nuggets’ transcendent center.

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