On Tuesday night, the Denver Nuggets opened their Western Conference Finals series at home against the Los Angeles Lakers with a 132-126 win, and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young was impressed with Nikola Jokic’s performance for the home team.
His unorthodox skillset was on full display on Tuesday night, as the Serbian big man finished with 34 points, 21 rebounds, and 14 assists, including a 19-point, 16-rebound first half.
Atlanta Hawks star impressed with NBA MVP
Jokic is a two-time league MVP, having won the award back to back in 2021 and 2022 and finishing top three in voting this year, losing to Joel Embiid.
Anthony Davis, the Lakers’ star big man and one-half of this series’s marquee positional matchup, was dominant in his own right, registering 40 points and 10 rebounds, but still was outshined by Jokic, who certainly now has an argument for being the best player alive.
“Joker” of course is a player on Jokic’s name, referencing the famous, or infamous, villain of the Batman comics and films.
Young didn’t play in either game against Denver this year. The first one, a game in which Young did not show up at State Farm Arena amidst his public feud with then-head coach Nate McMillan, resulted in a surprising 117-109 win for the Hawks, including 24 points from rookie and NBA rising star AJ Griffin.
The second matchup took place on February 4th in Denver, with Young missing that game due to flu-like symptoms and the Nuggets taking home a 128-108 victory led by a 14-point, 18-rebound, 10-assist triple-double from Jokic. Dejounte Murray scored 28 points for Atlanta in the losing effort.
This isn’t the first time that Young has expressed his thoughts on this year’s playoffs on social media.
Last week, when Boston Celtics’ star and Atlanta first-round opponent Jayson Tatum overcame a horrendous first three quarters to finish with 16 points in the fourth and help Boston stave off elimination against Philadelphia, Young also took to Twitter to express his motto that, well, shooters shoot.
Young has certainly never been one to shy away from taking the big shots in the biggest moments, which Boston saw up close and personal when he buried a cold-blooded game-winner on the legendary TD Garden floor a few weeks ago in Game 5 of the first round series.
Young also has shown interest in keeping up with Lakerland recently, as he was spotted at the Lakers’ Game 6 victory over the Golden State Warriors last Friday in the Crypto.com arena in Los Angeles.
Young was accompanied by his agent Rich Paul, who also represents Lakers star LeBron James as well as Davis. The Hawks point guard purchased a house in Calabasas last offseason, joining the plethora of NBA players and other athletes who own real estate in southern California.
Trae and the Atlanta Hawks have a busy offseason ahead of them, starting with the NBA draft which will take place shortly after the Finals, in which one of the Lakers and Nuggets will be participating, concludes, and then quickly transitioning into free agency, where a number of marquee names will hit the market this summer.
With new head coach Quin Snyder at the helm, Young will look to establish a more identifiable synergy with his running mate in Murray and hopefully fill out the roster with more of the kind of three-point shooting, versatile defending wing players best tailored to fit around the Hawks’ All-Star backcourt.
But for now, it’s good to see Trae enjoying some high-level hoops along with the rest of us.