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“Playoff Jamal Murray” is real: his burst to lead the Denver Nuggets to their first NBA Finals

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Sitting on the bus going to the airport, Jamal Murray was crying uncontrollably. At the height of his trajectory, just months after reaching bubbling glory, he plunged into a black hole where there was no trail of light to follow. A question played over and over in his head: “Why me?”. After so much time, after so many hours spent training, landing until his father’s steady voice whistled in the background, Canadian suddenly lost all hope.

With 12 games to close a complex Regular Stage for Denver buttons the bodyguard was injured, and seriously, say goodbye not only to the possibility of accompanying him Nikola Jokic in search key Playoffsbut with the real possibility that his career divide into two.

Anterior cruciate ligament rupture from him left knee. The most devastating combination of words in this sport is the one that includes the Achilles tendon. In these cases, the return is accepted; the question is not to be returned, but under what conditions it will be done, what will be the player’s ceiling, flexibility, confidence and, above all, if he can be the same person who entered the field before the injury. For a mind as frantic as Murray, negative questions soon dominated his thoughts.

Michael Malone he contacted Murray who was not coming out of the loop. Positive and encouraging words slipped from his companions.

“Will they transfer me?” I cause damaged merchandise – The escort asked through tears.

“Little risk. You are one of us, we love you. We will continue to help you come back. And you will come out a better player from this – Malone responded at the same time that they both melted into a hug.

756 days later of that fateful Saturday of 2021 in San Francisco, Jamal Murray once again achieved his individual perfection, at the end of the first half of the third game against the Lakers with 30 points, 65% in field goals and 50% in triples. In the previous duel, The Canadians closed with 23 goals and 85% accuracy in the last quarter. Performances that served to lead the Nuggets to a subsequent victory that would make it 3-0 in the final game against the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

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“I think what he’s doing in these playoffs is just a reminder of the player we drafted seven years ago who continued to find ways to improve and really show himself on the biggest stage in the world. “ Michael Malone admitted at a press conference after Murray made it 3-0.

Since landing in the NBA in 2016, the Kitchener native has followed a streak equal parts ascending and oscillatory. Characterized by very high performance peaks, but also by a real irregularity, almost like an elite microwave. But, It was in the toughest of times when Jamal Murray proved that he was someone who could achieve the greatest.. Just when it all counts, when that extra bit is really needed, that is, in the Playoffs.

Only in this 2022-2023 campaign has the Nuggets guard been successful to an average of 20 pointsenough positive data if one takes into account that he missed a year due to injury, to raise that record to 27.9 points in the playoffs. An increase of 7.9 units in the transition from the Regular Stage to the fight for the ring, that is, an increase of almost 40%.

Far from being circumstantial with the excitement of being back or being able to fight for the ring, the Canadian has systematically improved his numbers in the transition from one minute to the next of the campaign in a more significant way :

season regular degree Playoffs
2018-19 18.2 PTS, 4.8 AST, 47.6% T2, 36.7% T3 21.3 PTS, 4.7 AST, 46.7% Q2, 33.7 Q3
2019-20 18.5 PTS, 4.8 AST, 51.9% T2, 34.6% T3 26.5 PTS, 6.6 AST, 53.7% T2, 45.3% T3
2022-23 20.0 PTS, 6.2 AST, 49.4% T2, 39.8% T3 27.9 PTS, 6.2 AST, 50.7% T2, 41.2% T3

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There are players who don’t put all the meat on the grill during the regular course. Maybe it’s because of a lack of motivation or exciting challenges or because they’re dosing themselves. Something strange happens with Jamal Murray and that is that Canada competes to the max for almost nine months only to metamorphose into a different version in the Playoffs. However, his approach to the game is different during the Regular Stage, prioritizing the maintenance and development of the collective system instead of closing in on himself and restricting his scoring instincts.

obsessed with it work, training and watching games, Murray’s objective was to present himself in the best possible light and thereby erase all traces of doubt about his profile with a stroke of the pen. With complete confidence in his surroundings and the entire franchise pushing him to return and do so in the best conditions available to him, Canada is now collecting the debt of those who questioned him.

And, of course, he is doing it in the Playoffs, and the Nuggets can get his best result in 47 years since they reached the ABA Finals and the best in his NBA career.

“The more intense the game, the better I feel I’m playing”, recently said that The Athletic. “This is what every child dreams of. This is what I imagined. My father put me in difficult situations growing up. I love to play when the pressure is maximum.

When Nikola Jokic doesn’t come, Jamal Murray doesa figure as atypical in personality as the way he approaches each situation of the season.

I 2020 the guard made himself known to the general public with some legendary Playoffs. In the complicated “bubble” situation, the Nuggets player took the bull by the horns and led his team to the Western Finals, including three straight games with 50, 42 and 50 points respectively against the Utah Jazz. He was only 23 years old.

It is a very rare specimen found today because of its predilection for jumping, especially the one from the long middle distance, almost at the border marked by the line of three. Murray is not afraid of failure, he accepts it in the most positive sense of the term, he lives with it, because there is no other way but to understand his way of playing.

It might be an understatement to say that he has complete confidence in him.

“He thinks he’s the best player on the court. every time he steps on it, no matter who is there. And many times, he’s right.”recognized Aaron Gordon not long ago

The reason Murray is so dangerous and difficult to analyze in the postseason is his unpredictable. What in other situations could be seen as a bad shot, is his only chance to score in his mind.

Since the record (2014), Jamal Murray is the fifth player to shoot over 53% effective shooting percentage on jump shots in the Playoffs with 10 + attempts per night. Among everything, he is the only person who makes a presence again:

Player Year eGFR% average shots
Jamal Murray 2023 53.7% 10.5
Devin Booker 2023 58.6% 12.2
Donovan Mitchell 2021 61.1% 12.6
Kevin Durant 2021 54.5% 13.6
Jamal Murray 2020 55.1% 10.8
* Minimum of 10 shots and 10 games in the playoffs

How did Murray manage to do the same thing again i 2020 with the difference that he can now step into the Finals? His answer was this:

“I’m healthy”said.I see the game slower. I’m not that fast. I’d say I’ll take a little more time, even if it means a few more dribbles so I don’t lose the ball or find a partner in a bad spot. The game has slowed me down and I see it with more perspective now than I did a few years ago.”

From that difficult journey from the hotel to the airport, and the uncertainty of what would happen to him from now on, to picking him up where he left off, a century has passed for Jamal Murray. Although he still looks like an offensive superstar from the outside, he raises his own standards to the next pitch just when it’s needed most.

Motivation, work, confidence and a bit of recklessness and irrationality. Only in this way can “Playoff Jamal Murray” be understood.

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the NFA or its organisations.

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