Talk about making a statement. Despite being a matchup between the first and fourth seeds, many expected the battle between the Denver Nuggets and the Phoenix Suns to be an even match. Some even went so far as to say that Phoenix, the lower seed, was favored. In response, the Nuggets completely destroyed the Suns in Game 1, behind the efforts of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. After the game, Jokic had high praise for Murray, per Eurohoops.
“He (Jamal Murray) is playing amazing,” said back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, who had 24 points and 19 rebounds. “He is definitely showing what he is capable of. He is our best player and we (Nuggets) are following him right now.”
This is Murray’s first taste of playoff action since the Nuggets’ epic run to the Conference Finals in the 2020 bubble playoffs. Fans will remember the Canadian star just shooting the lights out during that whole run. He definitely had an argument as the team’s best player during that period.
Murray unfortunately missed the next two postseasons due to an ACL injury he suffered after the 2020 playoffs. He returned to the Nuggets this season, just in time for them to nab the first seed in the West. It was a slow start for him, but we’re starting to see the same Jamal Murray that propelled Denver to the WCF three years ago. His 34 points, 9 assists, and 2 steals are a good sign for Denver as they try to conquer the superteam that is the Suns.
As for Jokic, the reigning MVP took a backseat to his teammate in Game 1. With Murray taking care of the playmaking, the Serbian instead focused his efforts on rebounding. Jokic scored 27 points and grabbed 19 (!!!) boards en route to a win.
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