George Karl Explains Why Heat, Nuggets Are So Dangerous

Former NBA coach George Karl shared his thoughts on the Miami Heat, the Denver Nuggets and made a bold claim about Nikola Jokic

Tiki and Tierney
September 17, 2020 - 7:23 pm
Nikola Jokic Nuggets

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Few people could have predicted that the Miami Heat, a 5-seed, and the Denver Nuggets, a 3-seed, would both advance to the conference finals, but both teams have enjoyed incredible postseason runs in the bubble.

“I think Miami and Denver are the two teams probably playing as well as anybody,” former NBA coach George Karl said on Tiki & Tierney. “Boston and the Lakers probably have more talent, but this time of the year, team will beat talent a lot. Championships are won because you’re connected, you’re disciplined, you’re focused and you play with intensity. The bubble probably doesn’t give you the same effect of doing that when you’re at home. So when momentum gets going on a positive wave, I have a feeling it lasts longer in the bubble because if you’re playing well, you go on the road, the momentum can be turned right around against you really quickly. . . . But everybody is playing by the same rules. So tip your hat to Miami, tip your hat to Denver. The Clippers didn’t figure it out.”

The Clippers, of course, squandered a 3-1 series lead to the Nuggets in the second round of the playoffs.

“The Clippers looked like they disconnected as the series went on,” Karl said. “In Game 7, they looked like they wanted to get back to California so fast they were leaving before the game was over.”

Still, Karl does not believe Doc Rivers should lose his job.

“To fire a good coach that’s won a championship, that knows how to communicate with today’s players, that has a great coaching staff – to overreact and fire him and change the voice . . . I could not sign off on that,” he said.

The Nuggets, who have overcome a 3-1 series deficit in each of the first two rounds of the playoffs, believe they can give the Lakers a run for the money for two main reasons. One is Jamal Murray. The other is Nikola Jokic.

“There is no question that Jokic is the best passing big man ever to play this game,” Karl said. “[Arvydas] Sabonis was good, Vlade Divac was good, Bill Walton was really good. This guy is special. This guy plays like a point guard.”

Jokic had 13 assists in Denver’s 104-89 Game 7 win over the Clippers. He averaged 24.4 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.6 assists in the series.

“I said this in the Denver-Clippers series: the only point guard playing right now is Jokic,” Karl said. “Murray has point guard tendencies, but he’s much more effective when he has the freedom to shoot the ball and go after points and be the first option on the offense.”