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What Jokic did to T-Wolves is absurd, even by his standards

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If you happened to catch Denver's Game 5 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday, consider yourself lucky. You bore witness to one of the finest displays of basketball one could ever hope to see, courtesy of Nikola Jokic.

On the night Jokic accepted his third MVP award in the last four years, the Nuggets center turned in the kind of performance that reminds us how laughably large the gap is between him and everyone else. Jokic finished with 40 points on 15-of-22 shooting to go along with 13 assists, seven rebounds, two steals, and a block. He didn't turn the ball over once in 41 minutes despite a 28.7% usage rate and 98 passes thrown.

Against the league's best defense, the Defensive Player of the Year, and a frontcourt that boasts the kind of across-the-board size that should be able to at least slow Jokic, he absolutely feasted.

Whether it was Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, Naz Reid, or whoever else had the misfortune of being in the big fella's way, Jokic made minced meat out of all of them. It was as if he was hosting a fantasy camp for wide-eyed, comically overmatched fans. Except the fans were a trio of seven-foot NBAers, including the best defensive player on the planet, an All-Star, and the Sixth Man of the Year.

Jokic bullied and bulldozed the Timberwolves with sheer force. He finessed them with a dizzying array of moves, counters, and impossibly placed shots off the glass. He broke their backs with 3-point daggers late in the shot clock. He picked them apart with his once-in-a-generation passing. In the span of three minutes during an outrageous third quarter, Jokic threw two passes that could serve as the greatest assists in the careers of some of the greatest playmakers in league history. For The Joker, they were merely highlights of another ho hum spring night in Denver.

David Sherman / NBA / Getty Images

The Nuggets needed every bit of it. Though few will remember it this way as Jokic's performance is immortalized over time, the Timberwolves hung around all night. Even with starting point guard Mike Conley sidelined and superstar swingman Anthony Edwards struggling, Minnesota found itself in the game. That's at least something to cling to, if Jokic hasn't already sapped every shred of hope from the 56-win squad.

Jokic was the difference, because of course he was. Between his scoring and playmaking, Jokic accounted for 70 (62.5%) of Denver's 112 points. He was a game-high plus-21 in 41:06 of floor time, while the Nuggets were outscored by six in less than seven minutes without him.

Even for a team that seemed to have the defending champs solved less than a week ago, the prospect of beating Denver twice in a row again - including in a potential winner-take-all game in the mile-high altitude - has to feel like a nearly impossible task. That's no knock on a great Wolves squad. Almost every team in history would feel that way in this position. Jokic is that good. The Nuggets have won eight of 10 playoff series he and Jamal Murray have both been in the lineup for, and they're a win away from making it nine of 11.

Gobert will take the hits after Game 5. He always does, but this performance had nothing to do with his Defensive Player of the Year credentials or his postseason demons. There's not a defensive great dead or alive who could've done much against Jokic on Tuesday. Just ask Anthony Davis, who watched Game 5 from his couch like the rest of us after Jokic turned him inside out over a short series for the second straight year.

Gobert was far from perfect, but he wasn't the problem. Edwards (18 points) couldn't even outscore the defensive anchor. Meanwhile, after a strong start, Towns could be seen fading away over much smaller defenders. Classic KAT.

The Wolves are left to lick their wounds, but they shouldn't be buried just yet. This isn't about clowning Minnesota. This should simply be about basking in the brilliance of an all-time great at the absolute peak of his powers.

Joseph Casciaro is theScore's senior content producer.

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