The Denver Nuggets are in the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. They avenged their five-game loss in the 2020 Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers by sweeping them in 2023. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray balled out and uplifted their supporting cast to win the franchise’s biggest series to date.
Jokic will rightfully be the center of attention when it comes to the Nuggets. It’s kind of hard not to be when you put up the numbers he does and break one of Wilt Chamberlain’s records. But Murray deserves a ton of praise, too. His ability to run the offense with the ball and move without it has been huge, especially when he finds a zone and can carry the Nuggets with his unreal shooting off the bounce.
When Jokic was asked who he is most happy for after the Nuggets clinched their first Finals berth, he said Murray. After going through a tough injury and continuing to elevate his game, it’s no wonder that the two-time MVP is singing his praises.
"He's a special player in this league."
Nikola Jokic praises his teammate Jamal Murray on his resilience for coming back from injury to play at a high level in this Playoff run 🔊 #NBAConferenceFinals presented by @GooglePixel_US pic.twitter.com/6DvD1XvFTl
— NBA (@NBA) May 23, 2023
“He was injured. He was getting through a tough period,” Jokic said. “He thought they were gonna trade him. The way how he’s leading us and controlling the game, making shots…I think I’m so happy for Jamal just proving his worth and [that] he’s a special player in this league.”
Murray may not have the star pedigree to his name given his lack of All-Star selections. But when the games matter most, the amount of players who raise their game more than he does is not super long. Having another guy who does that certainly helps but Murray’s fearlessness and craftiness make him a great playoff hooper. Jokic’s job is made way easier because of the ways Murray can bend a defense and make tough shots.
Murray tearing his ACL in 2021 delayed the Nuggets’ breakthrough and made him think he was going to get traded. Denver made the smart choice to keep him and let him rehab, costing him a full season. He rewarded them with a fantastic playoff run that continued in the Western Conference Finals and will likely continue on the NBA’s biggest stage.