Supreme duo to the rescue. Jamal “Blue Arrow” Murray and Nikola “The Joker” Jokic both responded in Game 5. Welcome to the 2020 NBA playoffs.
Trailing 3-1 and on the brink of elimination, the Denver Nuggets were in a win or go home mode on Tuesday night in Orlando. Heading into Game 5 against a reinvigorated Utah Jazz squad, the Nuggets’ defense in a majority of their best-of-seven first-round series was non-existent. Let’s face the facts, it was simply atrocious. At times, nauseatingly horrifying. The same kind of feeling you get when watching a bad horror movie. Yikes.
With his imprint all over this Orange Roundball League playoff series, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell is in the process of the showing the world what he’s capable of — scoring at will from the land of plenty, using the mid-range jumper as a lethal weapon, and penetrating to the tin with minimal effort against Denver’s lackluster defense. How about two 50-point games in the series? That’s what he’s done, my friends. Goodness.
DONOVAN. MITCHELL. RELAXXXX 😱 pic.twitter.com/csEyN9qDr2
— Overtime (@overtime) August 26, 2020
That’s straight nasty, y’all.
After a ridiculous 53-point outburst in Game 2 (behind just Michael Jordan and Elgin Baylor for most points in a playoff game), Mr. Mitchell messed around while putting-up a 51-spot on the Nuggets in Game 4.
Losing Game 2 in a runaway, and getting trampled by the Jazz 124-87 in Game 3, Denver just needed better defense in Game 4. It didn’t happen, but Murray didn’t back down from going mano a mano with Mitchell.
How about a franchise-high playoff performance of 50 points in Game 4? Jamal took care of that. Unfortunately, it was in a losing effort as the Jazz road Donovan’s 51 to a 129-127 win. In the contest, Murray and Mitchell combined to make NBA history. There have never been dueling players on opposing teams rack-up 45 or more points in a playoff game. Remarkable.
Trying to stay afloat, what did Game 5 have in store for the Nuggets and Jazz? A loss for Denver meant a flight back to the Mile High City was on their horizon. They didn’t want to go out like that.
The Joker started things off in the first quarter of this elimination Game 5 with 21 of his 31 total points. Equally impressive, he did so while going a perfect 8-of-8 from the field. Wow. Not to be outdone, Mr. Murray came alive in the second half, pouring-in 33 points. Jamal finished with a game-high 42 points and led the Nuggets to a 117-107 victory.
The Nuggets survive Game 5 with dominant performances from their young stars 🔥 pic.twitter.com/TMZPaICQlM
— ESPN (@espn) August 26, 2020
Now a 3-2 series lead for the Jazz, Denver must once again dig deep to find their golden nugget in critical Game 6.
In order to force a deciding Game 7 in the ‘Bubble,’ the Nuggets will need to play superior defense. Guard, guard, guard. That’s all we ask. The Nuggs demonstrated some ability to defend in Game 5 with tremendous play in the second frame. Here’s a look at the number of points the Nuggets gave up to Utah in every quarter of Game 5.
- 1st: 32 points
- 2nd: 31 points
- 3rd: 23 points
- 4th: 21 points
Still sloppy in the first half on Tuesday evening, the Nuggets found their groove defensively in the second. A total of 44 points in the half is what I’m talking about. They not only did a better job of keeping Jazz players in front of them on the other end of the floor, they finally started to defend Utah’s pick-and-roll offense. Finally. I guess the Nuggets can play a little “D” after all.
If they can get the same intensity and execute while playing the same “D” they did in Tuesday’s second half, the Denver Nuggets will be in great shape to deadlock this best-of-seven series at 3-3. A step backward on the back-end of the floor and a flight back to the Mile High City will be on their horizon.
Here’s to actual defense as well as outstanding play from the supreme duo of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Come and get it, Utah Jazz. Let’s make this a best-of-one series with a gut-wrenching Game 7.
After the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the floor for their Game 5 against the Orlando Magic in boycott of Jacob Blake’s shooting in Wisconsin this past Sunday, the Lakers-Blazers and Thunder-Rockets have followed in their footsteps. With the postponement of all three NBA playoff games on Wednesday night, will the Nuggets’ Game 6 affair with the Jazz be postponed as well? We shall wait to see what happens. Unprecedented.
Until next week, be smart, stay safe, and stay healthy.