Good afternoon, folks. Jamal Murray scored 50–again… Let’s talk NBA Bubble.
The Murray and Mitchell show returns
Here are the per-game averages from Jamal Murray’s last three playoff outings against the Utah Jazz:
47.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.7 turnovers while shooting 64.2 percent from the floor, 62.9 percent from 3, and 88.9 percent from the free-throw line.
Yes, you read that correctly. Murray is shooting nearly 63 percent from deep on an insane clip of 22-35. He’s missed only two attempts from the charity stripe through these three games and went the entire first two outings without a turnover. Even with a superstar player such as Nikola Jokic acting as the hub, it has been Murray who the Denver Nuggets have relied on more than anyone. The former Wildcat is taking the infamous leap that fans have been begging for from him over the last two or so seasons. Now, he has the Nuggets tied with the Jazz at three games apiece in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs. Here’s how he did it.
Murray finished the evening with his second 50-point scoring affair over his last three games, shooting 17-24 from the field overall and a mind-melting 9-12 from beyond the arc. He joins a group consisting of Michael Jordan (twice), Wilt Chamberlain, and Allen Iverson as the only players to drop at least 50 points twice during one postseason. No player in NBA history has been able to do it three times; I don’t think many would be surprised if he broke that record in Game 7. Murray is also the first player since Iverson to score at least 40 points in three consecutive playoff games.
But Denver needed the win more than any trivial statistic. They’re trying to become just the 12th team in league history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series and the first since the Cleveland Cavaliers did so against the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 NBA Finals (I had to sneak that one in). As he’d done in the previous two games, Murray came out hunting for his points early and often. I said after Game 5 that Denver is currently at its best when Murray is in all-out attack mode and that was the case again in Game 6.
25 of Murray’s 50 came in the first half, as both teams went the first three minutes without missing a single field goal attempt. Utah had its foot on the gas early, quickly jetting ahead with an eight-point lead after making its first seven consecutive shots. However, Murray took over in the second period, dropping 14 personal points as Denver won that quarter 31-20 to take a five-point halftime lead. The third quarter was unusually uneventful from both sides, but the fourth quarter didn’t disappoint. As we’ve seen multiple times already throughout this series, the final 12 minutes was nothing but the Jamal Murray and Donovan Mitchell Show.
Mitchell actually ended the night with 44 points, making unbelievably difficult shots with a hand in his face at all times. The former Lousiville product shot 14-25 overall and an impressive 9-13 from beyond the arc. 17 of his 44 points came in a dueling fourth quarter. Too bad he–and the entire Jazz roster–had zero answers for Murray, who exploded for 21 points in the final frame, knocking down fadeaway jumper after fadeaway jumper. The shot-making abilities of both Murray and Mitchell are something I haven’t seen probably ever–or at least that I can vividly remember.
The ending wasn’t nearly as climactic as some of the previous games had been, as Denver was able to fend off Utah in the closing minutes before winning by a final score of 119-107. But it sets up a series-deciding Game 7, which is scheduled for Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. on ABC. I need it.
Other notes across the NBA
Immediately after the game was over, Murray’s 50 points became an afterthought. In the postgame interview, Murray was fighting his emotions to come up with the right words to say with a camera pointed in his face. His feet were sporting a pair of custom Adidas shoes that had the faces of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd beautifully pictured on them. Murray referred to the two, who were tragically murdered by police, as a symbol for him to keep fighting. His pure reaction on live television was chilling and put on display the gravity of the situation.
Much will be made about the interviewer’s (Jared Greenberg) choice of words when facing a clearly distraught and emotional Murray, but I thought the two-minute segment was far more powerful than not doing the interview at all. This is how players can use the NBA Bubble platform to their advantage. Murray’s message on Sunday was incredibly powerful and the world would not have been able to see the frustration and pain on his face without that interaction. He was authentic with the choice of his words and had the stage to share them. He initially brought up his shoes in the first place and seemingly wanted to spread his message. This is a time when Murray’s voice needs to be heard and he knows that. There’s no way it was easy for him to do, but I’m sure glad he did.
Series standings from Sunday
(3) Celtics lead (2) Raptors 1-0
(2) Clippers defeat (7) Mavericks 4-2
(3) Nuggets tied with (6) Jazz 3-3
|Jamal Murray (DEN)||119-107 W @ UTA||50||17-24 (9-12)||5||6||0||0||5||+12||43|
|Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (DAL)||97-111 L vs. LAC||2||1-1 (0-0)||2||0||0||0||0||-5||6|
|Patrick Patterson (LAC)||111-97 W @ DAL||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Enes Kanter (BOS)||112-94 W @ TOR||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TONIGHT IN THE BUBBLE
6:30 (TNT): Heat (Adebayo, Herro) @ Bucks (Bledsoe) [Game 1]
9:00 (TNT): Rockets @ Thunder (Diallo, Gilgeous-Alexander, Noel) [HOU leads 3-2]