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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: Paul Millsap compares Nikola Jokic to Tom Brady following the Nuggets' Game 1 win over the Trail Blazers

Nikola Jokic put together an incredible regular season but it didn't seem people were ready to give him the credit he deserves until he performed that way on a bigger stage - the NBA Playoffs.

Through eight games, it's safe to say what Jokic has done all year was nothing close to a fluke.

The All-Star centre only scored 10 points in his first career playoff game, which resulted in a loss, but finished with a triple-double with 14 rebounds and 14 assists and the reaction was that he needed to play more aggressively in order for his team to win.

Since then, Jokic has taken it to any player he's matched up against.

He's averaging 27.0 points per game since that Game 1 loss to the San Antonio Spurs and has put on a couple scoring clinics, such as a 43-point outing in Game 6, trying to knock the Spurs out of the playoffs, and a 37-point outing in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Portland Trail Blazers.

He's answered the call of being more forceful and attacking on the offensive end and if you need evidence of that, look no further than his number of shot attempts since the first game of the postseason - he's averaging 19.4 field goal attempts per game, roughly four more than his average for the season.

But the scariest part of it all is that Jokic's biggest strength isn't scoring the ball, it's orchestrating his team's offence. He's arguably the best passing centre in NBA history and we've already seen that on display this playoffs, averaging 8.8 assists per game, flirting with double-digit assists every time he steps on the floor.

"He's like a quarterback out there," his teammate Paul Millsap told ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk following their Game 1 win. "I consider him like a Tom Brady. He's always going to pick you apart and make the right reads. I commend him for doing that at this stage in his career. It's unbelievable."

Denver fans would have probably preferred a comparison to all-time great Broncos like John Elway or Peyton Manning, but having to settle for Brady isn't all that bad.

The comparison makes sense in an odd sort of way, too. Jokic often finds passing lanes other players would never see. He's surgical in getting the ball past the opposing defence to his teammates even if they might not necessarily be open, just like Brady.

His 8.8 assists per game are the most of any player remaining in the playoffs and his 5.0 assist-to-turnover ratio is the fourth best among players still competing.

Just like his teammate's confidence in him, he's confident in his own ability to read the defence and make the right play every time.

"I think I can read everything," Jokic told the media in his post-game press conference. "So I just need to know what they're going to do. I think San Antonio was playing one way, Portland is playing one way, it's completely different games. But I think I am capable of reading those defences."

That's the type of self-confidence the Nuggets need from their star player if they're going to continue to win games and advance this postseason.

Jokic's quarterback-like passing skills will be back on display for everyone to see when the Nuggets try and take a 2-0 series lead over the Blazers on Thursday.

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