This month has been, in every sense of the phrase, a true roller coaster ride of emotions for Denver Nuggets fans. After getting a thrilling overtime victory in Game 1 of their first round matchup with the Utah Jazz, the Nuggets fell unbelievably flat in the next two games with back-to-back blowout losses that led many fans to wonder how they would bounce back from such humiliating defeat. They responded with a very respectable performance in Game 4, but this game had a heartbreaking result as they lost by two points behind 51 points from Donovan Mitchell. Fortunately, the Nuggets stayed alive in Game 5 behind an incredible performance from Jamal Murray.
After Game 5, basketball ceased to feel important as the country continued to react after yet another horrific shooting of a black man at the hands of a police officer. This led to players boycotting games and demanding action from the league and team owners. When action was promised, the NBA resumed and the Nuggets’ emotional Game 6 win was perhaps one of the best games in recent franchise history. So, let’s take a look at the most highlight-worthy moments of this month.
Series record: 3-3
Game of the Month: Game 6 (Nuggets 119, Jazz 107)
Game 6 brought one of, if not the, best performance from a Denver Nugget that I have ever seen, in an elimination game nonetheless. Jamal Murray absolutely willed the Nuggets to a victory that will allow them to play a Game 7 with the hopes of advancing in the playoffs. Murray took over from the first quarter in this game, and he never took his foot off of the gas. By the end, it was another showing of the Murray vs. Mitchell matchup that has been captivating NBA fans all series. Murray was absolutely on fire from the field, going 9/12 from the three-point line, and he was also getting to the basket and scoring as if it was the easiest thing in the world. He had one incredible play after another, and by the end, he had his second 50-point performance of the series. It’s hard to state just exactly how impressive the win was, but keep reading for plenty more on the amazing month that the Blue Arrow has had in the bubble.
Highlight of the Month: Jamal Murray with the incredible 360 spin
Murray has had plenty of highlights this month, but none more impressive than his 360 spin in the air to complete the layup in Game 5. It was one of the best moves I’ve ever seen Murray make, and at a very critical time of the game. I’ll let the highlight speak for itself.
Player of the month: Jamal Murray
This is easy. Jamal Murray has absolutely exploded into stardom territory in this series. He started off by single handedly dragging the Nuggets to a win in Game 1 after Donovan Mitchell dropped 57 on the Nuggets. Murray and Mitchell went shot-for-shot in the waning moments of this game that ended up going into overtime, and Murray finished with 36 points on 13/20 shooting with an incredibly clutch performance. Little did we know this would be just one of many stellar performances from Murray this series. In Game 4, Murray notched a career high by scoring 50 points in the heartbreaking loss that resulted in the Nuggets falling to a 3-1 deficit. The following two games have been just as impressive, as Murray had 42 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds in Game 5 and 50 pounds, 6 assists and 5 rebounds in Game 6 to help the Nuggets stay alive and force a game 7.
Murray has been doing it all on the court. His offense is on a level that can only be matched by the best players in the league, and his defense has immensely improved from last season in the playoffs. Let’s hope he can continue the hot streak in Game 7 to help the Nuggets advance to face the Los Angeles Clippers.
Story of the Month: The NBA boycotts games in support of the Black Lives Matter movement
Last week, the whole country reacted to the brutal shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in Kenosha Wisconsin. This was just one more horrific and sickening example of police brutality against a black person in America, and for NBA players, it was the last straw. On Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks made history by refusing to play Game 5 against the Orlando Magic as a protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. What followed was truly incredible. As the day progressed, all of the teams that were slated to play that day/night announced that they would also boycott their games in solidarity with the Bucks’ decision. This then led to cancellations of games from the other major professional sports leagues in the country.
After multiple meetings amongst the players and Board of Governors, it was eventually announced that the players had decided to resume the playoffs after it was agreed that the league and its players would form a coalition with the goal of affecting change in social justice issues, including turning facilities into voting sites for the upcoming election. To witness the whole league come together with the goal of making immediate change after having such an emotional reaction to yet another instance of systemic racism in this country was truly incredible. There’s not a better example of this than Murray’s post-game interview after Game 6 in which he reflects on what the movement means to him.
Surprise of the month: The Denver Nuggets have been able to bounce back after two embarrassing blow out losses
After Game 3, all hope seemed to be lost for this team. It was only a 2-1 deficit for the Nuggets, but it just seemed that the Nuggets had too much to overcome to make the uphill climb. They lost Game 2 by 19 points, and in a game in which many were watching to see how they would react to such a blowout, they lost by 37 in Game 3. The Nuggets just could not figure out a way to stop the Jazz, as their shooters refused to miss shots. Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley, and Mitchell were essentially doing whatever they wanted on offense, while the Nuggets couldn’t even manage to prevent turnovers on the other end. Then, in Game 4, it was a whole different kind of heartbreak when the Nuggets had a much better showing but still couldn’t get the win, resulting in the dreaded 3-1 deficit. The last two games for the Nuggets have completely changed the mood for both teams, however. Now, with two straight wins headed into Game 7, and Murray on an absolute tear, all of the momentum is with the Nuggets. Plus, Gary Harris has made his return and will provide much needed backup in trying to contain the Jazz guards. If the Nuggets can win Game 7, they will become only the 12th team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in a series to advance.
Grade for the Month: C
It’s really difficult to try to grade the Nuggets for their performance in the series so far, because it’s almost as if we’ve been watching two completely different teams. Games 2 and 3 were so bad that it significantly brings down the grade for the series, no matter how great they played in the last two games. So, I’ll give them a C, with the hopes that they can raise it to an above-average grade in Game 7.
What’s new on Denver Stiffs:
Through every up and down of this first round series against the Jazz, the Denver Stiffs have been bringing you coverage full of analysis and insight. Check out just some of the articles below that deserve your attention this month.
Prior to the Nuggets taking the floor for Game 1 against the Utah Jazz, Zach Mikash gave us an insight into prior playoff battles with this division rival.
The Denver Stiffs make their predictions for round one. Check it out to determine who’s predictions came true.
Brandon Ewing reacted to Jamal Murray’s stellar performance in Game 1 of this series. His prediction is definitely coming true this series.
After the first four games of this series, Evan Fiala took a look at the Donovan Mitchell vs. Jamal Murray matchup and how it could aid in Murray’s growth going forward.
Gordon Gross penned this well written piece on his reaction to the boycotts from NBA players after the shooting of Jacob Blake.
This episode of The Denver Stiffs Show is a conversation between Ryan Blackburn and Quenton Albertie in which Quenton shares his personal experiences with police as a black man in America
Ryan Blackburn highlights some astounding statistics from Jamal Murray in the first round of this series, leading him to make the conclusion that our starting point guard is headed towards stardom
Brandon Ewing highlights the many ways in which Jamal Murray has shined on and off the court in the bubble