Denver Nuggets 119-107 Utah Jazz: Three Takeaways

Michael Jordan. Allen Iverson. Jamal Murray.  The Nuggets guard put up 50 points on 70.8 percent shooting to became one of four NBA players to have multiple 50-point games in a postseason series. Murray’s heroics would spark the Nuggets’ 119-107 win in Game 6 and force a deciding Game 7.  Donovan Mitchell, the fourth player in that aforementioned group, finished with 44 points to lead the Jazz.  The Nuggets will now play the final game in their series against the Jazz on Tuesday (TBD, ALTITUDE).  Jamal, Jamal, JamalMurray is in the midst of the greatest postseason stretch by a Nuggets player in franchise history. The numbers are almost unbelievable. Since Game 4, Murray has averaged an unfathomable 47.3 points a game on 64.2 percent shooting. That’s a clip the greats like Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain produce at. Time will tell where Murray’s exploits rank in NBA history, but the fact he’s in that conversation shows how quickly he’s progressing in front of a global audience.  With the game and season hanging in the balance, Murray wouldn’t be denied. The 23-year-old guard missed only one shot in the fourth quarter and poured in 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting, hitting five three-pointers in the process. What is particularly impressive during this stretch is the fact Murray is converting a high percentage of his buckets in transition, which is continuously catching the Jazz defense off guard. It is similar to Portland Trail Blazers all-star Damian Lillard in that he’s confidently launching the rock in front of defenders or from angles Utah isn’t prepared for. Murray added six assists and five boards to his epic scoring total Sunday.  

 Jokic-Grant frontcourt delivers It is easy to get lost in Murray’s brilliance since Game 4, but the Nuggets don’t force Game 7 without the inside-out work being done by Nikola Jokić and Jerami Grant.  With the Nuggets’ point guard on a hot streak, Jokić has focused on opening up opportunities for his teammates and playing a highly-efficient brand of basketball. It continued Sunday as the 25-year-old dropped a game-high nine dimes to go along with 22 points and four boards. In Denver’s three wins, Jokić has connected on 13 of 23 three-point attempts. In the team’s three losses, his numbers from deep are significantly lower, taking just 18 threes and connecting on six. Grant has emerged as an unsung hero for the Nuggets since Game 4, averaging 12.5 points and hitting a sizzling 42.9 percent on triples. He was factor on both ends for Denver Sunday, making timely shots from deep and adding two blocks on the night. Grant’s ability to guard multiple positions has been a huge reason behind the Nuggets’ defensive improvement in their last three contests. This is why the team’s front office pursued the versatile big forward and he’s delivering on the NBA’s biggest stage. Grant finished with 18 points on 66.7 percent shooting. Gary’s return provides a boost Gary Harris finished the game with just four points on 25 percent shooting, but his impact on the court from the second quarter on was indisputable. The Nuggets have missed their starting shooting guard’s grit, tenacity and intangibles and they made a difference in Game 6.  After an quiet first quarter, which could be chalked up to rust, Harris got going in the second quarter. With the Nuggets leading 48-45, Harris would steal the ball from Donovan Mitchell and then receive it from Monte Morris on the other end. Guarded by Mike Conley, Harris pump-faked before barreling to the basket to score on Georges Niang. It was a game-changing sequence on both ends of the floor and Harris celebrated the play by flexing his bicep.  Though that would be his last field goal of the night, his defense remained effective throughout the contest. It was his hounding pressure on Jordan Clarkson that kept the normally pinpoint reserve relatively quiet in Game 6. Clarkson came into Sunday’s game averaging 19.2 points per game on 48.6 percent shooting in the first round. In Game 6, he finished with 11 on 35.7 percent shooting.  Harris’ effort also appeared to galvanize several of his colleagues on the bench Sunday. Though the group was outscored 21-14, the defensive effort of the group was sensational. For example, Michael Porter Jr. scored just two points on the night but was a game-high +21and finished with a team-high 12 rebounds.