Michael Porter Jr. becomes the third member of the Denver Nuggets Big Three team that includes Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Finally, healthy “MPJ” reminds basketball fans what he can do on both ends of the floor.

However, the Nuggets are even more dangerous when they launch into the Jokic-Murray duo. Here’s what Porter Jr. had to say about the Denver 1-2 punch (via The Old Man and The Three):

“So easy to play him. That two-man match (between Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray) is so lethal. The thing that makes our team so hard to protect is if you hit Nikola in the post, and you don’t double?

He’s going to work his way up with most guys in the league. But if you double and then Aaron (Gordon) flushes to the front of the rim, it’s a little pass now for Aaron, who can get up quickly and dunk him.

Michael Porter Jr. in the two-player Joki-Murray game 👇

The Denver Nuggets have been making a living in the playoffs on the basis of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray isolating themselves on one side of the floor. On Denver’s first down, the “Joker” scored a low run with Bam Adebayo trying his best to counter the strong center. Murray simply ran into Jokic’s hip to take down Gabe Vincent while he went straight to the edge to make a layup.

Challenge with Jokic and the Nuggets, even when they do a good job denying Jokic like Bam here, it turns into a screen with both defenders on the wrong side, and that unlocks Murray’s drive.

When Vincent tried to jump on that play sometime in the second quarter, Murray simply cut the backdoor for the other endpoint.

The Nuggets also wreaked havoc with their usual pick-and-roll run. When Heat decided to switch, they were still in deep trouble. When Jokic was guarded by Jimmy Butler or Caleb Martin, the Denver crowd was already expecting a bulldozer move to the basket.

Despite this, Nikola Jokic is not your usual big guy with a bruised physique. He constantly found open teammates because Miami often fielded double teams. The two-time MVP did not attempt a field goal until the final seconds of the first quarter. He made 10 assists and 10 points.

📽️ The Murray-Jokic Two-Man Game is Unguardable Miami used 5 different defenders, multiple ball screen covers, and area but it didn’t matter.

The mere presence of Jokic and Jamal Murray forced the Miami Heat defense to stick with the two. Miami’s reluctance to let Denver punch 1-2 resulted in one too many baskets.

Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray’s pass willingness makes it more difficult for the Miami Heat defense to respond

Nikola Jokic finished the game with 14 assists, the most by a debutant in NBA Finals history. Jamal Murray will not leave either. He had 10 dimes of his own. They combined on 24 of 29 Denver Nuggets tackles.

“Joker” added 27 points, while “Glitch” had 26 points. Together, the superstar duo of the Denver Nuggets accounted for 87 of the team’s 104 points. Stopping them is key. The problem is that there is no easy answer to this problem.

Jokic and Murray dominated the offense in Game 1 😳

Reducing Murray’s beauty may be the key. If they can limit him to less than 40% shooting, the Miami Heat may have a chance. Murray, however, has only reached less than that figure once in the playoffs. He had 38.1% against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who needed overtime to beat the Nuggets.

Nikola Jokic shot just 27.6% in the Nuggets’ close win over the Timberwolves. He was 8-29 from the field but scored eight points in the last two minutes of the game. Even when he’s having a bad night of shooting, he always finds a way to score when needed.

Also read: 2023 NBA Finals: Nikola Jokic vs Jamal Murray matchup, an incredible feat scored by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and others

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Edited by Michael McCassero


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