3. The Blazers need to attack Jokic in the paint
Nikola Jokic is a better interior defender than he’s credited as, especially helping from the weakside. He’s learned how to use his body to deter shots, even if he’s never going to lead the league in blocks. The Blazers though, seem like they’re giving him too much respect as a defender.
On multiple occasions, Portland’s players would drive and find Jokic between them and the hoop. Rather than attack him, they kick it out or turn around.
This is a mistake on so many levels. Number one, we know that the Joker, sometimes called the Gummy Bear, isn’t going to be sending many shots back. Number two, sometimes the best way to defend against somebody is to keep them out of the game.
Having Nurkic bang in the low-post isn’t a great strategy, so the onus is on Portland’s perimeter players to drive and force Jokic to contest them. Every now and then, they’re going to draw a foul on the Serbian superstar.
Thus far in the series, Jokic is averaging only 3 fouls per game. That has him tied for 7th among starting centers in the playoffs.
It’s infuriating that he’s played 30-plus minutes every night and avoided foul trouble each time out, aside from the very end of Game 1.
The Joker is killing the Blazers and they don’t have an answer for him. The only solution for a player like that is to keep him out of the game as much as possible. Portland needs to put an emphasis on attacking him in the paint and putting more pressure on him to try to stay out of foul trouble.