Extra Pass: Giant matchup between Jokic and Towns

Published February 1, 2022, 4:00 PMMiguel Flores

The Nuggets-Timberwolves game is live at 9:00 AM on NBA League Pass. You can also catch the Nets-Suns match at 11:00 AM on NBA TV Philippines (available on Smart GigaPlay).

Do you like Kaiju movies?

There's a genre of movies that involves massive creatures – usually the size of skyscrapers and varying species – that either fight each other and destroy a city or just outright destroy a city. Plot mostly doesn't matter, the giants didn't need a sophisticated reason to crush humans or each other.

This is all relevant because tomorrow, two giants by basketball standards in Nikola Jokic and Karl-Anthony Towns meet tomorrow. These two are also monstrous in that they dominate opponents with sheer force and cunning.

Nikola, the MVP

The Denver Nuggets have to be one of the unluckiest teams in the NBA. A promising season last year was derailed by an ACL tear to Jamal Murray. This year, Michael Porter Jr., who had just signed a massive extension in the offseason, barely played 20 games before needing back surgery.

You wouldn’t know how much they're missing because reigning MVP Nikola Jokic is playing like a potential two-time MVP. Look up any advanced metric, especially offensive ones, and you'll most likely find Jokic leading the category or in the top five. Averaging 26.1 points, 13.7 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game, Jokic is the only player in the league to lead his team in all these categories.

Everything Denver does revolves around Jokic out of necessity. Denver being fifth in the West with a 28-21 record and a five-game win streak is a testament to how efficiently Jokic makes Denver’s system churn. They’re doing this with Aaron Gordon or Will Barton being their second best player on most games, which should make the Nuggets at least triply more impressive.

A Townie’s redemption

There was a GM survey in 2018 which asked which player they prefer to build a franchise around. The unanimous answer was Karl-Anthony Towns. The perception on Towns has wavered since then, but he’s getting his redemption this year.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are fun, a minor miracle for which everyone involved should be made a saint. There’s a lot of excitement around the Wolves’ charismatic new star in Anthony Edwards, and rightfully so. Edwards has revitalized this team with exciting on-court play and equally entertaining off-court shenanigans.

Still, the person holding things down for Minnesota and the reason they’re seventh in the West with a 25-25 record has been KAT. While KAT doesn’t have the playmaking chops of Jokic, Towns makes up for it with a more dynamic offensive game. The 7-foot-2 center is draining 41.2 percent of his 3s on 5.4 attempts per game. He’s shooting 51.5 percent overall and scoring 24.4 points with 9.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Statistically, he’s an All-Star. He’s also one of the few players who can truly match someone like Jokic.

The Game

You can watch the Nuggets-Timberwolves game live on NBA League Pass at 9:00 AM. Expect a close battle since these teams have split their first two meetings, each winning on the other’s home court.

The story will revolve around Jokic and Towns. With coaches still to decide on the reserves for the All-Star Game, expect Towns to try and make a statement by outplaying a starter. Expect Jokic to be not care and dominate anyway.

Keep an eye on…

The Brooklyn Nets visit the Phoenix Suns tomorrow. This game will be live on NBA TV Philippines via Smart GigaPlay at 11:00 AM.

Both teams have been interesting for different reasons. The Suns have pretty much dominated the league, entering tomorrow’s game with a 10-game winning streak and a 40-9 record.

The Nets have been interesting because they seem like they’re either ready to collapse or come together. They have James Harden saying he probably isn’t staying in Brooklyn after his contract expires, Kyrie playing part time, and Kevin Durant injured. Yet, the Nets are still in a good place in the East with a 28-20 record. Chaos is indeed a ladder.