Nikola Jokic was questionable for Game 3 of the Denver Nuggets‘ second-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers with a sprained right wrist, but according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, he will be active Monday. Jokic is coming off a huge Game 2 performance in which he scored 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting to go along with 18 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. The Nuggets rode that stellar outing all the way to a victory in Game 2, tying the series at 1-1 after getting blown out by the favored Clippers in Game 1.
If Jokic had missed the game, Mason Plumlee likely would have moved into the starting lineup in his place, and rookie sensation Bol Bol would presumably have become the backup center. Bol has played only 17 garbage-time minutes in the postseason so far, and with good reason. While his combination of size and shooting is incredibly tantalizing, he simply doesn’t have enough experience to stay on the floor against a team like the Clippers, who have already given fellow-Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. problems on defense.
Jokic has been remarkably durable throughout his career. He didn’t miss a single game this season, and has never missed more than nine games in a season as a whole. Fortunately, wrist injuries tend not to be recurring. His long-term health is not necessarily at risk. If he had missed the game, Denver would have been in serious trouble. The Nuggets were 6.7 points per 100 possessions better with their superstar center on the floor this season than on the bench.
His presence is especially important against a Clippers team whose size is somewhat underwhelming. Ivica Zubac, while solid, does not pose nearly the deterrence to Jokic that Rudy Gobert did last round. Montrezl Harrell is a 6-8, offensive-minded backup. Neither are particularly equipped to slow Jokic down, and that is one of the key’s to Denver’s slim upset hopes. Those hopes are still alive with Jokic playing in Game 3.