Former UK guard Murray helping Nuggets make history

Published 11:30 am Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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Jamal Murray wants to keep making history.

The former Kentucky guard has played a significant role in the Denver Nuggets’ success in the NBA playoffs this year. Murray averaged 30-plus points in the Western Conference finals, a 4-0 sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers. The rare sweep over LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the rest of the Lakers marked the first time Denver had reached the NBA Finals.

“It’s incredible. It’s a lot of fun (and) it’s surreal,” he said. “I know we’re going to keep making history. That’s the thing. We want to keep that mindset and enjoy the moment. But we’ve got more work to do, so that’s the mindset right now.”

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The Nuggets are 12-3 in the playoffs. Denver defeated Minnesota 4-1, and edged Phoenix 4-2 before ending the Lakers’ season earlier this week.

The former Kentucky guard turned in his best performance of the series when he scored 23 points in the fourth quarter in Game 2. He finished with 37 points, ten rebounds and five assists in a 108-103 win. During the postseason, Murray is averaging 27.7 points and 6.1 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game as a complement to superstar Nikola Jokic, the runner-up for MVP in the NBA.

“We just want to make the most of the opportunity, the first Nuggets team to do that,” he said. “We want to go all the way and stay locked in. I think our chemistry is at an all-time high, the way we play, the way we read the game without even speaking. We talk that language on the court. It’s just beautiful basketball, honestly. It’s so fun to play with this team and with him (Jokic) and with the coaching staff that has groomed us into the team that we are.”

He overcame an ACL tear in 2021 and didn’t play during the 2021-22 season but returned this year and helped the Nuggets make history.

“I had some ups and downs during the season, some sore days where I couldn’t play, and those sucked,” he said. “(I) Played my first back-to-back in January or something like that. It’s just been trending. Every month I feel my knee get better and more solid and more consistent in the way it’s going to feel. Wo just to be here and be playing this many minutes at this time has been — we’ve prepared for this…I’m just glad I put the work in during the rehab to be able to perform and be at my best.”

Murray and the Nuggets have their sights set on the next series against the Miami Heat, which features former UK players Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. The Heat defeated the Boston Celtics 4-3 in the Eastern Conference Finals.