The Denver Nuggets left the NBA 2021 playoffs Sunday after a blowout 4-0 series loss to the Phoenix Suns. League MVP Nikola Jokic was denied any more time but went down swinging– literally. Jokic not only left the playoffs early but was ejected from game four early after committing a flagrant foul 2 against Suns’ Cameron Payne. This final curtain call for the MVP didn’t represent all his efforts this past season but caused quite a tumultuous end to conference semi-finals in the West.
Jokic got ejected after this hard foul on Payne 😯 pic.twitter.com/EvG1Dfvuub — Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 14, 2021
Rules of a Flagrant Foul 2
According to NBA.com, if there is unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent, the ruling on the floor is a flagrant foul 2. This call then results in the ejection of said player. When reviewing this call, referees consider whether any other players committed unsportsmanlike acts immediately prior to and/or immediately following the foul. Both flagrant fouls carry a penalty of two free throws and the team that was fouled retains possession.
After the refs locked in on this call, Jokic was ejected with just under four minutes to go in the third quarter. A frustrating way to exist the game and to end the series for Jokic. Despite the losses, the Nuggets have been hot for the last few seasons, making it to the Western Conference finals just last season before losing against the Los Angeles Lakers, per RealGM. With some fine-tuning and ample rest, there’s no doubt that Jokic and the team will be back with a vengeance next season.
Firing on all cylinders
Although this is the end of the line for Denver, Phoenix has been sensational in these playoffs and is moving with full speed ahead. They have only lost two of their 10 games in the postseason so far, per ESPN. The dynamic duo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker put up 71 points combined, making up more than half of the Sun’s 125 points on Sunday. Booker was 10-11 at the free-throw line and got wrapped up in the drama of the Jokic foul moments after it took place. The energy was high on both ends of the floor but it’s the Suns who would reign supreme.
The Suns are set to play the winner of the Utah Jazz vs LA Clippers series in the Western Conference Final. The Clippers currently lead the series 3-2 with game six to be played tonight at 10 p.m. ET. Although the latest news reveals that CP3 may be missing some time in the next round due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The next update on his status won’t be given until Saturday, June 19, according to the team, per CBS Sports.
The Phoenix Suns are headed to the 𝐖𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐅𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐬! More to do, more to come. 𝐄𝐕𝐄𝐑𝐘𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐂𝐎𝐔𝐍𝐓𝐒. #RallyTheValleyhttps://t.co/Jb1oUUiaHM pic.twitter.com/Fto8xLyATo — Phoenix Suns (@Suns) June 14, 2021
A final look at Jokic’s season
The Nuggets have a ton of positives to look back on from the 2020-21 season and a lot of it is thanks to their big man. Having been the first center to win MVP since Shaquille O’Neal, Jokic reinstated the importance of his position and established a new template for young bigs, of what a modern-day center should be: skilled, versatile, mobile, capable of scoring from anywhere like a guard, while still defending the paint like their predecessors, per SI.
“First thing, thank you,” O’Neal told Jokić, the 26-year-old Nuggets star, during a video call on TNT’s Inside the NBA. “Because of you, the big man is back. You’re the first big man to win an MVP in a long time. I thank you, and I appreciate you very much,” per SI.
There are at least two players now who proudly wear the center’s mantle and have the swagger and skill to power a contender: Jokić and the 76ers’ Joel Embiid, who finished second in the MVP race. They’re the first centers to finish first and second since 1995 (Robinson and O’Neal). And, notably, both learned the game in other parts of the world—Jokić in Europe, Embiid in Cameroon, per SI. Here’s to more outstanding action from the league’s bigs in 2022.
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