Michael Porter Jr. has become the third member of the Denver Nuggets Big Three, which includes Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Finally healthy, “MPJ” reminds basketball fans what he can do on both sides of the court.
The Nuggets, however, are most dangerous when starting the Jokic-Murray duo. Here’s what Porter Jr. had to say about Denver’s 1-2 punch (via The Old Man and The Three):
“It’s super easy to play against him. This two-way game (between Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray) is super deadly. What makes our team hard to keep is if you hit Nikola in the post, and you don’t don’t double?
“He’s going to do what he wants with most players in the league. But if you double up and Aaron (Gordon) floods in front of the rim, now that’s a small pass for Aaron, who can get up quickly and dive.
The Denver Nuggets are making a living in the playoffs thanks to Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray isolating themselves on one side of the floor. In Denver’s top spot, the “Joker” went low with Bam Adebayo doing his best to deal with the burly center. Murray simply hit Jokic’s hip to catch Gabe Vincent as he headed straight for the rim for a layup.
When Vincent attempted to skip that play in the second quarter, Murray simply cut the backdoor for another close range finish.
The Nuggets also wreaked havoc by performing the usual pick-and-rolls. When the Heat decided to switch, they were still in big trouble. When Jokic was guarded by Jimmy Butler or Caleb Martin, the Denver crowd was already anticipating a bulldozer move to the basket.
Nikola Jokic, however, is not the usual physically bruised big man. He always found open teammates as Miami often sent double teams. The double MVP did not attempt a placement until the last seconds of the first quarter. He had 10 assists and 10 points.
The mere presence of Jokic and Jamal Murray forced the Miami Heat defense to stick on the two. Miami’s reluctance to leave Denver’s 1-2 punch resulted in too many field goals.
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray’s willingness to pass makes it harder for Miami Heat defense to respond
Nikola Jokic finished the game with 14 assists, most by a player making his NBA Finals history debut. Jamal Murray wasn’t going to be outdone either. He had 10 sous all to himself. They combined for 24 of the Denver nuggets29 assists.
The “Joker” added 27 points while “Glitch” had 26. Together, the Denver Nuggets super duo accounted for 87 of the team’s 104 points. Stopping them is the key. The problem is that there is no easy answer to fix this problem.
Limiting Jamal Murray could be key. If they can limit it to less than 40% shooting, the miami heat might have a chance. Murray, however, has only reached that number once in the playoffs. He had 38.1% against the Minnesota Wolveswho needed overtime to beat the Nuggets.
Nikola Jokic shot just 27.6% in the Nuggets’ final win over the Timberwolves. He was 8-29 from the field but scored eight of his points in the final two minutes of the game. Even when he’s having a bad shooting night, he almost always finds a way to score when needed.