Why Orlando bubble was ‘just the beginning’ for Jamal Murray

Jamal Murray, the Denver Nuggets point guard, made his return to playoff basketball after a two-year absence due to a left knee injury, which required surgery. In the Nuggets’ second win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Murray scored 40 points, including 22 points in the second half, reigniting memories of his standout performances in the 2020 Orlando bubble where he led the Nuggets past the Utah Jazz and the LA Clippers. Head coach Doc Rivers, who was the Clippers’ coach in 2020, has expressed his relief that he does not have to face Murray again in the playoffs, dubbing him an “assassin.” Murray continues to work on his mental health, using meditation to help him focus on the game and block out distractions.

The Nuggets now lead the series against the Timberwolves 2-0, but Murray will need to continue his impressive form if the Nuggets are to progress to the next round of the playoffs. Murray’s injury and recovery motivated him to come back stronger, and despite feeling tentative at first, he’s now playing at the top of his game. He’s only the third player in NBA history to have more 40-point games in the playoffs than in the regular season with five, demonstrating his ability to play in high-pressure environments.

Murray’s playoff returns have been highly anticipated, and as the Denver star prepares for his first hostile playoff environment since 2019, he is ready to prove that his performance in the bubble playoffs was only the beginning. He told ESPN that people are making a mistake by thinking he peaked in 2020, stating that he has not shown his best yet. Murray is part of a dynamic duo with Nikola Jokic that he believes can win a championship. The Nuggets have had a difficult season with multiple injuries, but Murray’s return during the playoffs has reignited hope that the Nuggets could go all the way.

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