NBA Finals 2023: Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray match incredible feat set by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and others

Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray combined for 14 assists in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray combined for 14 assists in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray became just the third pair of teammates to record at least 10 assists each in the NBA Finals. The “Joker” had a game-high 14 dimes while Murray added 10 in Game 1 against the Miami Heat in this year’s finals.

Jokic and Murray joined the legendary Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and the "Showtime Lakers" of Magic Johnson and James Worthy, per NBA.com/Stats.

Jordan and Pippen accomplished the feat in Game 2 of the 1991 finals against an aging Johnson and the Lakers. They did it again twice in Games 1 and 2 in the following year’s championship round versus the Portland Trail Blazers.

Johnson and Worthy etched their names into the history books in Game 1 of the 1987 finals against rivals Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics. It would be the last time the Showtime Lakers would win the NBA championship.

LA’s tandem would achieve the same feat in Game 7 of the 1988 finals against the “Bad Boys.” However, the Lakers lost in seven hard-fought games in what was the beginning of the Detroit Pistons’ two-year reign atop the NBA.

The iconic duos of Jordan-Pippen and Johnson-Worthy had 35 finals appearances each. Jokic and Murray had just made their debut on the NBA’s biggest and brightest stage. The Denver Nuggets’ 1-2 punch will have the chance to add to their tally before the current finals is over.

Nikola Jokic, in particular, is carving up the history books almost every time he plays. He had 10 points, 10 assists and three rebounds in the first half. The “Joker” joined LeBron James in 2017 as the only players with 10+ points and 10+ assists in the first half of the finals.

Jokic’s 14 assists in Game 1 were also the most in a championship debut.

With Jokic and Jamal Murray directing Denver’s top-ranked offense, the Nuggets scored 104 points. A staggering 87 of those were directly from assists from the Nuggets’ top playmakers.


The Miami Heat will be desperate to find an answer to Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray

Nikola Jokic might be the best low-post scorer in the playoffs. He has the size, the skills and the smarts to overcome almost any defenses. Anthony Davis, who was perhaps the best defender in the postseason, was often left shaking his head in trying to contain the two-time MVP.

Miami Heat star Bam Adebayo is athletic, instinctual and one of the best defenders in the game. He gives at least a three-inch height advantage and probably 30 pounds of weight over most player. Fighting through a Nikola Jokic screen is already a thankless job that Adebayo must do.

The Heat tried all sorts of defense on Jokic and it mostly failed. Even if he doesn’t score, his impact is unquestionable.

When Jokic is bottled up, Jamal Murray usually takes the mantle. “Glitch” averaged 20.0 points on 45.5% shooting in the regular season. Heading into Game 1, he is putting up 27.7 PPG on 48% shooting in the playoffs. He has become nearly as big of a headache for defenses to contend as Jokic is.

What makes the Denver Nuggets so tough to beat is the unselfishness of their two superstars. It will be interesting to see what plan Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra comes up with to slow them down.


Also read: “I'm trying to win a game any possible way”- Nikola Jokic doesn’t care about stats as long as he gets to win in NBA

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Edited by Michael Macasero