After fending off the elimination in two straight games, Nikola Jokic sees a “relaxed” Denver Nuggets enter Game 7 against the Utah Jazz.
“To be honest, it’s been Game 7 for us in the last two games, so I mean it’s a win or a homecoming for us,” Jokic said after Game 6 on Sunday. “Maybe that’s why we are playing so relaxed, so we have nothing to worry about. If we lose, we will go home. The energy is still winning or going home, so we just have to give the effort. We don’t give up bets,” bounce and help each other. That’s why we’re playing really well right now. “
Playing on the brink of elimination in Games 5 and 6 seems to have brought out the best of the Nuggets and Jamal Murray. And with Tuesday’s game against the Jazz being their third streak of seven straight games since last year, the Nuggets may even feel a sense of comfort as they strive to become the 12th team in NBA history to come back from a 3-in-1 gap. -1 and win a best of seven series.
“I think it’s crazy that for me as a manager and all of our young players, this will already be our third Game 7,” said Denver manager Michael Malone after training on Monday. “… it’s something we’ve been here before. Our guys understand that every possession is important and I think we will have a level of comfort due to the fact that we were here before last season and in race 5 and race 6.”
No Nugget elevated his game more than Murray, who is playing to a scoring level that only players like Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and series rival Donovan Mitchell have achieved in playoff history. Murray scored 50 points in Game 6, making 17 of 24 shots, including 9 of 12 from over the arc, to go with 6 assists and 5 rebounds. It was the second time Murray scored 50 in this series, matching a feat Mitchell did in this first round as well. These two join Iverson and Jordan as the only players with more 50-point games in a post-season streak, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
It is fitting that the Murray-Mitchell duel will be resolved by a game 7. Mitchell is averaging 38.7 points and Murray averaging 34.0 in this series. According to Elias Sports Bureau, this would be only the seventeenth time in NBA history that opposing players averaged 30 points each in a post-season series and would be the first time two scorers have done so at the age of 23 or older. young.
“Life is a weird thing, because it puts roadblocks on you,” said an excited Murray Sunday night after Game 6. “Sometimes you have to face it; sometimes you have to work around it. Sometimes you have to take a break and look back on that. what are you going to do, make a plan.
“And I just put it all together, and I missed two starters, inserting a beginner who doesn’t completely know our moves and where to go, stuff like that makes me be more vocal, makes me put the ball in the circle more.”
In Game 4, Murray had 50 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. In Game 5, he had 42 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. He joins Jordan as the only player in post-season history with three consecutive games of 40 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
And now Murray and the Nuggets will play in another Game 7 after beating San Antonio in the first round in Game 7 and losing to Portland in Game 7 in the Western Conference semi-finals last season.
“Someone comes home tomorrow night,” Malone said. “And our plan is that it’s not the Denver Nuggets. Obviously it will take a lot of effort. I’m sure they will be ready. They will make some changes. Jamal is going crazy. And we have to try. To prepare our boys in the best possible way for what they can do.
“But from a mental and approach point of view, we have to leave everything at stake. We cannot save anything. There is no tomorrow.”