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September 17, 2020

Nikola Jokic

Denver Nuggets

Practice Day

Q. What has it been like transitioning from a Jazz team that played so much pick-and-roll, to a Clippers team that played so much isolation, to now a Lakers team that likes to run so much in transition? How has that shift been?

NIKOLA JOKIC: I think it just puts a little bit more focus on a specific thing. I think even the Clippers were running pick-and-rolls. They were trying to run a little bit more, play a little bit faster.

That was good for us just because the Lakers are going to do the same thing. They're a really talented team. They have a one-man break with LeBron. They have AD, who is a really good deep seal guy. McGee and Howard, who are running really good. So I think transition will be a big part of their game. We need to find a way to slow them down somehow.

Q. After last postseason when you guys went to a tough seven-game stretch against Portland, now entering this postseason where you have gone through this historic Playoff run, how have you evolved as a leader for this team, trying to be more vocal, implore guys to push them to be better?

NIKOLA JOKIC: I really don't know. I don't see myself -- I mean, I see myself, but it's really the whole team. You see the whole team. I always say it's not just me. Sometimes it's Jamal, sometimes it's Paul, sometimes it's Coach. I think it's not just me.

Yes, it's helped me just to kind of see what I can do, just to learn from other players, from my team, some other players from other teams. You can see who is stepping up and who is talking in huddles. Just learning, experience. Just by experience, it's helped me a lot.

Q. You have spoken highly of Coach Malone. You have a great relationship with him. What does it mean to you to have a coach that says enjoy the moment and the journey, take the time to celebrate before focusing on the Lakers here?

NIKOLA JOKIC: We do. To be honest, I'm enjoying the whole journey. Just playing free, playing loose, playing for each other. It's really, really nice to be part of this team. Especially after that victory two nights ago, it's (indiscernible) relief. We made a step up from the last year, so we get better each year. It's a really good thing for all of us.

Q. How is Wes Unseld Jr. as a coach? How has he helped you in your game?

NIKOLA JOKIC: I love him (smiling). I talk to him a lot, even outside of basketball. I love him as a person, as a coach. Me and him have kind of a similar mindset. We don't need to say that much. He can just show me something in the middle of the game, and I will know what he's asking me to do.

I really love him. I really love the communication, the relationship, what we have. It's fun. We are helping each other. It's really cool to have him as a coach.

Q. In the times you guys have played the Lakers this season, what is it like switching between the physicality of a guy like Dwight Howard and also JaVale, and then seeing Anthony Davis match up with you at the end of games?

NIKOLA JOKIC: I think we are matching up with them. I mean, they are the favorite. They are the one who is supposed to win it all. I'm just glad that we are going to put up the fight. I'm just glad that we have a chance to play against the best.

They have a really, really talented crew. Everybody can do something on the floor. Dwight Howard is an amazing player. JaVale McGee is an amazing player. Anthony Davis is amazing. They have so much talent. They are so deep.

It's not just going to be me against them or Jamal against whoever. I think collectively we need to find a way to kind of make them a little bit uncomfortable.

Q. Coach Malone said a few minutes ago aside from schematics, the biggest challenge for the team is are you satisfied, are guys happy with where you've gotten. What is the hunger level with you guys going into this series? How much more do you still feel compelled that you want to do?

NIKOLA JOKIC: Since Utah, we are just playing free. We are just playing for fun. When you win games, it's really fun. When you're losing, it's kind of, Hmm...

If you remember, I think it's the third or fourth game against the Clippers, we kind of felt good because we played good and everybody was playing for each other. We lost the game, but we kind of put up the fight. I think we want that feeling again. We are playing free, playing for each other, winning. We are hungry for that feeling.

Q. People talked about the pressure on the Clippers the last series. You talked about how free and fun it's been. Is there pressure on the Lakers? Is all the pressure on them because it's supposed to be their party and you're crashing it?

NIKOLA JOKIC: I mean, even when we beat the Clippers, they were talking how the Clippers lost. They don't think about us. Not even the Lakers, not even anybody.

I think they're really focused. You can just see how they're playing. Even the Portland series, the Houston series, they are really locked in. They will not take us for granted. We kind of surprised the Clippers. Probably they don't want to make that happen to them, so I think they're going to be really focused and really locked in.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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