The Serbian Nikola Jokic looked his most forceful version this Tuesday and destroyed the Minnesota Timberwolves with 40 points and thirteen assists to give the Denver Nuggets a 112-97 home victory that leaves them one win (3-2) behind the Western Conference finals in the NBA playoffs.

Before the eyes of NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the reigning champions defeated the Wolves for the third consecutive time, after losing the first two games of this second round series. Those two victories, also achieved at home, excited the Wolves, but the Nuggets’ reaction has been fierce.

Jokic received the MVP award from Silver and scored 40 points, seven rebounds and thirteen assists, without losing a ball. He became the second player capable of showing numbers of this level in the playoffs after Chris Paul. He was the protagonist with some extraordinary plays, including a triple against the marking of Frenchman Rudy Gobert, the best defender of the season, which left the audience speechless. Aaron Gordon supported him with a double double of 18 points and ten rebounds, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jamal Murray contributed 16 points each and Christian Braun contributed 10 points off the bench.

The Nuggets shot 55% from the field and 47% from three, too much for the Wolves to avoid defeat. Dominican Karl Anthony Towns was Minnesota’s leading scorer with 23 points, while Anthony Edwards scored 18 and gave nine assists. Mike Conley was out for the Wolves due to Achilles tendon discomfort.

Jokic served as triple MVP with an unquestionable start to the game. He scored twelve points in the first quarter and already had 19 points, eight assists and two steals at halftime. He led his Nuggets by the hand. At the halfway point of the match he had one point less than the rest of his teammates in the starting quintet, more assists and more steals.

Still, the Wolves managed to stay in the game and went into halftime six points behind the Nuggets. Karl Anthony Towns, with eleven points, and Nickeil Alexander Walker, also with eleven points and three of three in triples, supported the visitors, in which Edwards did not exceed five points.

It was in the third period when the Nuggets struck a blow to the game. They did it based on partials, starting with an 8-0 that gave them a 13-point advantage (76-63), and with Jokic as the protagonist. The triple MVP scored 16 points in the third quarter, with six of seven field goals, captured three rebounds and also gave four assists. Aaron Gordon also helped push the Nuggets’ lead to 88-74 as the Nuggets entered the final period.

Naz Reid led a 7-0 run that gave the Wolves hope and closed the gap to 12 points, but it didn’t take long for the Nuggets to mark territory. A huge three-pointer by Jokic against Gobert made it 106-92 and with three minutes left virtually sealed the match.

This Tuesday, Jalen Brunson scored his fifth playoff game above 40 points and led the New York Knicks’ 121-91 victory against the Indiana Pacers with 44, which leaves the New Yorkers one win away from going to the NBA Eastern Conference finals.

The home teams defend their field in this series, which saw the Knicks triumph in the three games played at Madison Square Garden and the Pacers impose their law at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Cleveland. The Knicks, despite the losses of Julius Randle, OG Anunoby and Mitchell Robinson, dominated the Pacers led by an irrepressible Brunson from start to finish.

The former Dallas Mavericks player scored 44 points (18 of 35 from the field), captured four rebounds and distributed seven assists in 43 minutes on the court. He had the support of a dominant Isaiah Hartenstein in the paint, who added 17 rebounds to his seven points, twelve of them offensive. He left the court in the fourth period, with the game already decided, applauded by the Madison Square Garden audience.

Josh Hart contributed 18 points and eleven rebounds and Miles McBride scored 17 points for Tom Thibodeau’s team, which had a maximum lead of 31 points. The Pacers, who had hit the table at home, particularly with a dominant fourth game, were completely outplayed in New York and now return to Indiana with their backs against the wall.