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Keeler: Why Nikola Jokic, Nuggets could go medieval on Celtics, Jayson Tatum in potential NBA Finals preview

Could somebody send Nikola Jokic a text?

We kid, we kid. Fun stat: The last seven times the Joker’s come off a night in which he shot below 45% from the floor, guess what happened the next time out?

The Nuggets are … (checks notes) … 7-0. And Jokic’s average line during those “rebound” tilts: 27 points, 11 boards, 10 assists.

Oh, Boston.

You really want a piece of this?

“All you can do is just try and do your best (with Joker),” our old pal Bol Bol, now a cult hero on the Phoenix bench, told me late Tuesday night after his Suns shocked the defending champs in overtime at Ball Arena.

“There’s not very many people that can stop him, honestly. And we all know it. Even the whole league knows it.”

Cavalier emptor, kids. After Dean Wade went Kevin Durant on the Celtics in Ohio, Kevin Durant went Kevin Durant on the Nuggets, a pair of gentle reminders to always gamble with somebody else’s money first. Late Tuesday was only the second time all season the N’s and C’s managed to lose on the same day.

“(That was) one of the toughest losses we’ve had,” Nuggets guard Jamal Murray said of a 117-107 setback, snapping a six-game win streak just in time for Thursday’s purported NBA Finals preview. “It’s just tough because I know that I could’ve played better.”

He could’ve. Then again, there was a lot of that going around the home bench against the Suns. The Nuggets took the second quarter off — Phoenix flew into halftime riding a 23-7 run — and burned so much fuel in the third and fourth stanzas trying to make it a game again that the tank was empty by overtime. Although if the Nuggets give Grayson Allen that many good looks again in a tilt that matters, I’ll shave my head.

“I can’t recall a time this season when we’ve allowed anything like a 21-1 run like we allowed in the second (quarter),” coach Michael Malone reflected. “Some guys were in chill mode (Tuesday).”

Jokic never slacked. But the Big Honey, who shot 8 for 18, never really looked comfortable, either.

Tip your crash helmet to Suns center Jusuf Nurkic, the 300-pound bully who spent half the night riding the Joker like he was a bull at Cheyenne Frontier Days and the other half whacking him like a dusty old rug.

“He can defend really well. He’s a big guy who can in some situations switch 1 through 5,” said Jokic, whose 25-point, 16-rebound evening was tempered by seven turnovers and a few passes torn straight from The Gospel According To Jarrett Stidham.

“(He’s a) monster on the glass. He’s a great fit for them and he’s embracing his role.”

The Joker meanwhile, seemed to shy away a bit from his role down the stretch, eschewing the ball and the paint. No. 15 took just one shot in overtime late Tuesday — a 3-pointer. He launched two during the entire fourth stanza, a 12-minute brickathon saved by the grace of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Christian Braun.

That won’t fly against Boston, although we live in rare air when 16 boards and five dimes is considered an “off” night. The only player in the world who can stop Jokic is Jokic himself, even if Nurkic seemed to relish getting his licks in while he could, the scamp.

“Nurk to start the game (Tuesday), he was spectacular on both sides of the ball,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said. “He took four shots and was our best offensive player. That’s just a testament to how you can impact the game without scoring.”

Vogel somehow managed to squeeze a little production out of Bol, too — much to the delight of the locals who never gave up their man crush on the 7-foot-3 center.

Kid gave his money’s worth, too, using his 12 minutes-and-change to snatch four boards, throw down a dunk, pick up a tech for hanging on the rim and swat away a high, 10-foot floater off the fingertips of Nuggets guard Reggie Jackson.

“Just got lucky in the zone and (Jackson) just hit my hand,” said Bol, who spent 2019-22 with the Nuggets as a viral, if sparingly used, reserve. “I’m surprised I got it, myself.”

He’ll be more surprised if Jokic turtled late against Boston. Joker’s averaged 26.8 points, 11.1 rebounds and 7.6 assists over his last 10 appearances against the C’s. And remember those seven tough shooting nights we mentioned earlier? In the games immediately following a rare strugglefest, Big Honey shot 70.9%.

“It’s hard to be physical (with Jokic) because they get a lot of — I feel (the Nuggets) get some calls that are questionable, to their advantage,” Bol continued.

Then he shrugged.

“I mean, I definitely respect (them) because they did win the ‘chip last year. And I think they definitely earned that. It is what it is.”

For Jokic, it’s a second chance this week to send a message to the national wonks. And if recent history is any harbinger, that bad boy won’t be coming by phone.

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