NBA

Nikola Jokic joins NBA greats in winning back-to-back MVP awards

By Sports Desk May 09, 2022

Nikola Jokic has won the NBA MVP award for the second successive season, according to reports.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday reported Jokic will be officially announced as MVP later this week.

It follows a 2021-22 season in which the Denver Nuggets center led the league in points/assists/rebounds per game with 48.7.

That average marked an improvement on his 2020-21 numbers, which saw him rack up 45.5 PAR per game.

His reward for that increased production is to become the 13th player in NBA history to win the MVP award in back-to-back years.

Giannis Antetokounmpo achieved the feat in 2019-20, with Stephen Curry and LeBron James the two other active NBA players to go back-to-back.

Bill Russell was the first to win successive MVPs, heading a list that also features Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.

Tim Duncan won in 2001-02 and 2002-03 and Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash was named MVP for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.

Jokic's regular-season form did not translate to success in the postseason for the Nuggets, who lost 4-1 to Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs.

 

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    Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said the Eastern Conference Finals will be an old-school defensive slugfest, and that he feels the best two teams made it.

    The Heat needed six games to triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Boston Celtics came back from 3-2 down against the Milwaukee Bucks to get the job done in Game 7.

    As a reward for getting their series out of the way early, the Heat will have five days of rest before Tuesday's Game 1, while the Celtics have just one proper rest day between series.

    Speaking to the media after Monday's practice, Spoelstra said it is shaping up as a series that will warm the heart of Heat president Pat Riley.

    "Pat's [Riley] probably is going to enjoy this," he said. "This is like a throwback series. 

    "If both teams are really on top of their games, this should be a series where neither team is scoring 130 points. Both teams hang their hats on rock-solid team defense, and making multiple efforts and being disciplined to schemes. 

    "So it will be a lot of plays and things in the margins… really, we were the two best teams in the East most of the season and it's fitting that we're moving into the conference finals.

    "Boston has played as well as anyone in the entire league once they got to 2022. It's not by accident. They're playing very strong basketball. They do it on both ends."

    Heat star Jimmy Butler was asked about his potential matchup against Jayson Tatum, and he had nothing but praise for the Celtics' best player.

    "He's one of the best in the game right now," he said. "As much attention as he draws on the offensive end – and then I think what's really impressive is the way that he's picked up his defensive intensity. 

    "You got to tip your hat to that and respect him, I think those are the guys that you want to go up against."

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