Heat Players Give Their Honest Take on Facing Nikola Jokic in The Finals

Guarding arguably one of the best centers the game has ever seen must be a daunting task, but the Heat don’t seem to be sweating on it.

Two-time MVP Nikola Jokic will be on his home court for the first two games of the NBA Finals and be virtually unstoppable.

So how do Miami plan on slowing him down?

“Guarding him as a team with all five guys,” Heat forward Jimmy Butler said. “He does everything so well, and we’re going to have to be in the gaps, we’re going to have to gang rebound. We can’t have defensive lapses. We’re just going to have to get after it. I think at the end of the day, he’s a major key, as DJ Khaled would say, and we’re going to have to lock in.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra noted that the big man doesn’t show many faults on the court. Many are touting the match up as one of the highest basketball IQ players against one of the highest basketball IQ coaches.

“He’s very unique,” Spoelstra said Wednesday. “He doesn’t really have any noticeable weaknesses in terms of his size, his skill set. He’s one of one in the myriad of ways that he can impact the game and impact winning.”

One would think Miami center Bam Adebayo would spend the most time guarding Jokic throughout the series but Spoelstra said his match ups and minutes may vary.

Regardless, Adebayo says a crucial part in guarding the Serbian superstar is forcing him into hard-to-make shots.

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“Force him into tough shots, and live with the result,” Adebayo said. “That’s the biggest thing for me. I feel like this is one of those series where he becomes very dangerous when you let his teammates get involved, and he can make those incredible passes and end up with 12 assists.”

Other teams may be daunted by the massive challenge that lies ahead but Butler’s unwavering attitude seems to have been infectious.

“I would like to say that I’m never rattled,” Butler said. “I’m very calm. I’m very consistent in everything that I do, whether it’s before the game, after the game, during the game, and I think when my guys look at me like that, they follow suit in every single way.

“I love that about them because they’re never shook. No matter what. We could be down, people can think that we’re out, and all of a sudden, we’re right back in this thing — and it’s because we do the same thing every day. We love being around each other. We want to see each other succeed. We really do enjoy when each other play well, and we’re going to continue to do that, never going to get rattled, and we’re going to see where we end up.”

Read more: Nuggets’ Honest Take on Facing the Heat in the NBA Finals