May 20, 2024

Nikola Jokic led the Denver Nuggets to a poignant victory against the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics, showcasing an exceptional performance with 34 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists. This triumph came amidst the grieving process for his cherished former coach, Dejan Milojevic, whose heartfelt message was relayed to Jokic posthumously following Milojevic’s tragic fatal heart attack while serving as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors.

Nikola Jokic's incredible offensive efficiency continues as Nuggets end  Celtics' perfect home record - CBSSports.com

Nuggets coach Michael Malone expressed the team’s unwavering support for Jokic during these challenging days, highlighting the emotional toll of losing Milojevic. Despite the heavy heart, Jokic honored his late mentor’s memory by delivering an outstanding performance on the court, and Malone commended his resilience, acknowledging Jokic as a remarkable individual.

Dejan Milojevic, known as ‘Deki,’ had previously coached Jokic during their time together on a Serbian club team in Belgrade before the latter’s transition to the NBA. The 46-year-old’s sudden passing deeply affected Jokic, but it didn’t hinder his performance against the Celtics, who opted not to double-team him. Jokic’s efficiency was evident, making 14 of 22 field attempts, while also contributing significantly with nine assists in the first three quarters. Teammate Jamal Murray also played a key role, going 15 of 22 from the field.

Malone emphasized the significance of the victory, considering Boston’s strong defensive record. He noted that the Nuggets played not only for themselves but also in tribute to Milojevic, showcasing high-level basketball from two All-Star players.

Since Milojevic’s passing, Warriors coach Steve Kerr conveyed a message from the late coach to Jokic. Malone shared the sentiment that Milojevic loved and was proud of Jokic, emphasizing the importance of Jokic carrying on Milojevic’s legacy both on and off the court. Malone drew parallels to his own recent loss, stating that coping with the departure of someone significant is challenging, but reassuring Jokic that Milojevic’s love for him should be a guiding force in preserving Milojevic’s memory.

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