It was billed as the Battle of the Balkans as Denver Nuggets star man Nikola Jokic faced off
against the Dallas Mavericks and ace Luka Doncic in Denver last night, with the Mavericks coming out on top 124-117 after overtime.
The result saw the Mavericks move to 4-4 on the season and into sixth place in the Western Conference, one of seven teams with the same 4-4 record. It was a costly defeat for the Nuggets as they moved to 3-5 and dropped to 12th.
Jokic v Doncic
The game had been billed as a battle between two of the best players in the NBA who herald from the Balkans region of Europe. Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic hails from Serbia, while the Dallas Mavericks guard Luca Doncic was born and raised in Slovenia.
In an exciting game, neither disappointed with Doncic playing a key role as the Dallas Mavericks came back from a 10-point deficit for the first time this season to win a game. Doncic netting 38 points, 9 rebounds and 13 assists to lead his team to victory.
After the Mavericks took the lead late in the fourth quarter thanks to Maxi Kleber’s three pointer, the Nuggets had 2.2 seconds left on the clock to find the two points they needed to level the game. They turned to Jokic who landed yet another buzzer beating basket to level the match and send the game into overtime.
Despite losing the game in overtime, Jokic posted another outstanding individual performance also scoring 38 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists.
MVP and Top Center in the NBA?
The Mavericks guard Doncic remains the top pick for many to be the NBA’s MVP this season withsites such as DraftKings Online Sportsbook ranking the Dallas player as the +400 favourite to earn that award. However, Nikola Jokic is another to be considered a good bet for the honour, with the Nuggets center a +1200 shot.
Jokic is also embroiled in a battle with 76ers center Joel Embiid for the unofficial honour of best center in the league, with NBA fans from across the continent debating the strengths and weaknesses of both. Embiid is also rated a +1000 chance to win the MVP honour this season.
Best Game of the Season So Far?
Those who tuned in to last night’s game between the Mavericks and Nuggets rated it as the best NBA Game of the Season so far. The back-and-forth nature of the game, Dallas coming back from a 10-point deficit, Jokic’s buzzer-beating heroics, only for the Mavericks to then clinch the game in overtime meant fans were enthralled throughout.
However, with both teams now falling a little behind the two 6-3 L.A. teams and the Phoenix Suns, who top the table with a 6-2 record, it is important for them to pick up more wins to push themselves into contention in the division.
That starts tomorrow for the Nuggets who will take on the 7-2 Philadelphia 76ers, which will see Jokic and Embiid come face to face for the first time this season. Meanwhile the Dallas Mavericks will head to Florida to take on the Orlando Magic (6-2) who are hot on the heels of the 76ers in what looks like a very competitive Eastern Conference this season with nine teams with a 0.500 record or better.
Eight teams in the Eastern Conference have a better record than 0.500, while in the Western Conference, just three can better that record.
The good news is that fans won’t have to wait too long for the rematch. Barring injury to either player, Jokic and Doncic should lock horns once again on January 26, when the Mavericks and Nuggets will face off against each other once again.