The Denver Nuggets’ victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of their playoff series was fueled by Jamal Murray, who played like his usual self despite being listed as limited due to a non-COVID illness. In 35 minutes of action, Murray dropped 26 points on 7-16 shooting from the field, helping the Nuggets secure a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Nikola Jokic also continued his dominance over the Suns with yet another triple-double, tallying 32 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists.
Nikola Jokic on Jamal Murray being listed as sick today, "we tricked them… we tricked them.
No, I'm kidding. He will play through anything, he's played through much worse. He's a great partner to have in this journey."
— Jake Shapiro (@Shapalicious) May 12, 2023
But according to Jokic, Murray’s limited status was just a misdirection tactic to fool the Suns. “We tricked them… we tricked them. No, I’m kidding. He will play through anything, he’s played through much worse. He’s a great partner to have in this journey,” Jokic said in his postgame press conference, per Jake Shapiro of DenverSports.com.
The exquisite two-man dance between Jokic and Murray powers the Nuggets’ high-octane offense and elevates the team from good to great. “As many weapons as the Nuggets may have, the fuel that powers their high-octane offense remains the exquisite two-man dance between Jokic and Jamal Murray. The balletic partnership between the two, as evidenced by their mind-meld on dribble handoffs, pick-and-rolls, and off-ball cuts, is what elevates this Nuggets team from good to great,” wrote Joseph Salvador of ClutchPoints.
Murray’s presence on the court has been crucial for the Nuggets’ playoff success. “The difference between the Nuggets’ playoff runs with and without Murray is night and day; without Murray to complement Jokic, the Nuggets had troubles against the Suns and Golden State Warriors over the past two iterations of the playoffs. But now, with Murray around, the Nuggets look as capable a team as any of winning the 2023 NBA championship,” wrote Scott Rafferty of NBA.com.
With a return trip to the Western Conference Finals secured, the Nuggets will now await the winner of the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers matchup. As the team continues to rely on their dynamic duo of Jokic and Murray, they will look to keep their misdirection tactics up and surprise their opponents in the next round.
Nikola Jokic Leads Denver Nuggets to Western Conference Finals with Dominant Triple-Double Performance
The Denver Nuggets are the first team to secure a spot in the NBA conference finals after a dominant 125-100 victory over the Phoenix Suns. The Nuggets, who haven’t reached the conference finals since the 2020 Covid “bubble,” will face either the Golden State Warriors or the Los Angeles Lakers in the next round. Nikola Jokic led the way for the Nuggets with his third triple-double of the series, scoring 32 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and dishing out 12 assists. Jamal Murray, who was questionable before the game due to illness, scored 26 points while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 21 for Denver.
The Suns struggled without veteran point guard Chris Paul, who missed his fourth consecutive game with a groin injury, and center Deandre Ayton, who was ruled out with a rib injury. Cameron Payne scored a team-high 31 points, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Suns alive.
Despite playing on the road, Jokic said the Nuggets maintained their aggressive mindset and made the Suns take tough shots. The Nuggets’ dominance was evident in their 81-51 halftime lead, prompting boos from home spectators. Kevin Durant, who joined the Suns in February via a trade with Brooklyn, called the loss embarrassing, adding, “It sucked. It was a bad feeling.”