There have been several notable storylines in early stages of the 2020 NBA Playoffs, but none have been more underrated than the historic efforts put forth by Jamal Murray and Donovan Mitchell in the Nuggets’ first-round series against the Jazz.
Most hoops fans are aware of Mitchell’s rise to prominence. The former Louisville Cardinal continues to progress, and now he has become the face of the Jazz organization. Murray, on the other hand, may not be as well-known, but he should be. Together, they’re providing one of the best shows in the playoffs.
Jamal Murray and Donovan Mitchell have been lighting up the scoreboard inside the NBA’s bubble complex. Murray has racked up averages of 30.8 points on 55.7 percent shooting form the field (52.4 percent from beyond the arc), 6.8 assists and 6.4 rebounds through the first five games of Denver’s series with Utah. For reference, Murray averaged 18.5 points and 4.8 assists in the regular season.
Clearly, Murray has managed to step his game up in a big way, and he saved the Nuggets’ season on Tuesday night. He poured in 42 points on 17-of-26 shooting, with 33 of those points coming in the second half as Denver erased a 15-point deficit with its season on the line.
This came after an epic Game 4 performance. Murray made NBA history with these back-to-back showings, becoming the only player to record consecutive playoff games with over 40 points and zero turnovers. The former Kentucky Wildcat had an epic performance in Game 4, notching a whopping 50 points and 11 rebounds. Notably, his 50 points were the most scored by a Nuggets player in the team’s postseason history. The previous mark was held by Spencer Haywood, who tallied 45 in an ABA playoff contest on April 19, 1970.
Murray made history in several other ways:
Jamal Murray has scored 92 points over his last two games. Only seven players in NBA postseason history have scored more points over a two-game span:
* Wilt Chamberlain
* Elgin Baylor
* Jerry West
* Rick Barry
* Michael Jordan
* Kobe Bryant
* Kevin Durant
— Justin Kubatko (@jkubatko) August 26, 2020
Unfortunately for the Nuggets, Jamal Murray’s 50-point effort in Game 4 was topped by Donovan Mitchell, who poured in 51 points. 18 of those 51 points came in the fourth quarter alone. Impressively, he was 15-of-27 from the field and went 17-of-18 from the free-throw line. With Mitchell leading the charge, Utah managed to stave off Murray’s surge to carry the day, 129-127.
Game 4 wasn’t the only 50-point effort from Mitchell in this series. In Game 1 — a 135-125 overtime win for the Nuggets — the 23-year-old All-Star dropped 57 points, joining Michael Jordan (vs. Cleveland, 1988), Allen Iverson (vs. Toronto, 2001) and Wilt Chamberlain as the only NBA players to notch two 50 or more point games in a single postseason. Mitchell knocked down all 13 of his attempts at the stripe and buried six of his 15 shots from 3-point land. Murray had 36 points on this night, which led the Nuggets to victory.
Through the first four games of this series, Mitchell had 158 points. According to NBA.com, that’s the most for any player in a four-game span within a single postseason since Michael Jordan’s effort of 173 points in the last four games of the 1993 Finals.
Despite the loss in Game 1, Mitchell became just the third player in NBA history to record 50-plus points, seven-plus rebounds and seven-plus assists in a postseason game. His 57 points also set a Jazz playoff record, passing the great Karl Malone’s mark of 50 against the Seattle SuperSonics in April 2000. Furthermore, it was the most points scored in a playoff game since Michael Jordan’s historic 63-point effort against the Boston Celtics in 1986. Overall, Mitchell’s 57 is now the third-most points scored in an NBA playoff game:
Donovan Mitchell has set a new Utah Jazz franchise postseason record w/ 51 points & counting in Game 1 vs. Nuggets.
Previous: Karl Malone (50) in 2000 vs. Seattle SuperSonics. pic.twitter.com/ZYlM4mx4Lj
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) August 17, 2020
— Dana Greene (@dana_greene) August 17, 2020
After five games, the Jazz find themselves leading in this first round series by a count of three games to two. Game 6 is set for Thursday at 4:00 p.m. ET, with ESPN having live broadcast coverage. Will Donovan Mitchell and Utah advance, or will Jamal Murray and Denver live to fight another day?