The 3rd-seeded Denver Nuggets just lost Game 1 to the 6th-seeded Portland Trail Blazers, which led to everyone raising questions about Jamal Murray. In the final minute of an April regular-season game against the Golden State Warriors, the Nuggets' point guard landed awkwardly after an attempted basket. He was rushed to the locker room and we later learned that he tore his ACL.
Given Jamal Murray's explosions in last year's NBA playoffs, it is understandable why fans are inquiring about his return. He dropped multiple 40 and 50-point games and led the Denver Nuggets to two consecutive 3-1 comebacks.
Jamal Murray - The star guard's return
Jamal Murray's ACL tear happened at the worst possible time. The Denver Nuggets were soaring and about to put on another show in the NBA playoffs. Murray's injury led to many analysts ruling out the Nuggets' postseason chances and the entire burden of performance fell on Nikola Jokic.
Michael Porter Jr. said after the game.
"You all know what he means to us. He’s ‘the dude,’ you know what I’m saying — Nikola and Jamal...They've brought this team to new heights. You talk about their closing all the time, but we need Jamal. We all know that"
The team announced that he underwent successful surgery and will recover back to 100%. Murray posted a picture of himself after the surgery to reassure Nuggets fans of his swift return.
ACL tears typically render a player out for about a full calendar year, forcing teams to be extra cautious with them. Given that Jamal Murray's injury took place in April, the Denver Nuggets might have to go through the majority of next season without their point guard.
Two guards who tore their ACL and made a comeback are Zach LaVine and Klay Thompson. LaVine tore his ACL in February 2017 and returned in January 2018. Meanwhile, Klay Thompson tore his ACL in June 2019 and was healthy in November 2020 (until he tore his Achilles).
Denver Nuggets without Jamal Murray this season
In Jamal Murray's absence, Facundo Campazzo and Austin Rivers have shared the guard's backcourt duties in the lineup. Nikola Jokic's MVP-calibre exploits this season led the Nuggets to continue their winning ways even after Murray was injured. The Denver Nuggets were 13-5 in the regular season since his injury and 0-1 in the playoffs.
Many NBA analysts predict that Murray's absence will give other players more opportunities on the court. Michael Porter Jr. is getting more touches and more shot attempts and he has shone since Jamal Murray's injury.
Porter Jr. averaged 19.0 points per game for the injury, but that number shot up to 23.5 points per game since Murray's injury.
Jamal Murray's absence isn't expected to ruin the team's chances of victory given how Nikola Jokic runs the offense and not him. Murray's weakness is his defensive game, although he has shown improvement on that side of the floor. The only place where the Nuggets take a hit is during crunch time. Jamal Murray is a clutch operator and the Denver Nuggets miss him down the stretch.
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