Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray’s injury makes a deep playoff run unlikely

Denver Nuggets Jamal Murray (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Denver Nuggets Jamal Murray (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Denver Nuggets are in a tough, and unfair, spot heading into the playoffs. 

Just a couple of days ago, there was a certain playoff hope surrounding the Denver Nuggets that hadn’t been there since the days of Carmelo Anthony. Over the past couple of weeks, there hadn’t been a team in the NBA that had improved more since the trade deadline than the Nuggets.

Aaron Gordon was living up to the deadline acquisition and the team tore off eight-straight wins after the move. Even though a bit of a fall back to earth was expected from the Nuggets, the stars were lining up for a final surge in the regular season and the potential for a deep playoff run.

However, all of that is now in doubt after Jamal Murray suffered a significant knee injury in the final minute of a game against the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.

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Murray tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season (including the playoffs). If the Nuggets are going to make that deep playoff run, that many were hoping for, they’re going to have to do it without their second-best player and one of their leaders (both on and off the court).

Murray was on pace to have the best statistical season of his career thus far while averaging 21 points, five assists, and four rebounds per game on 48 percent shooting from the field. He’s the Nuggets’ primary leader in the backcourt and arguably the one player on the roster that could create his own shot effectively whenever needed.

And we saw that so much in last year’s playoffs, in which he helped lead the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals.

During the 19 games he played in the playoffs of last season, Murray averaged 26.5 points, seven assists, and five rebounds on 51 percent shooting from the field and 45 percent shooting from 3-point range. Last year’s playoffs was essentially a coming-out party for Murray.

Not only did Murray help bring some respectability to the Nuggets, but he also helped put some validity to his own name. And despite the Nuggets’ somewhat slow start to this season, Denver was slowly rounding into a dark horse contender in the Western Conference again.

With how the team was playing over the last six weeks or so – they are 17-5 since February 27 – the Nuggets were quickly emerging as a team that no one wanted to face in the first round of the playoffs.

Interestingly enough, thanks to the injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, we were inching close to a Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets 4-5 first-round series. We very much still may get it, but it won’t feel anything like it could’ve with a fully healthy Nuggets team.

The Nuggets and the rest of the team will say all the right things. They’ll say that expectations haven’t changed and that while they will certainly miss Murray, they still believe they can be successful in the playoffs. And I can’t blame them. This team is still extremely talented and could still present some real problems in the playoffs.

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Still, the Denver Nuggets not having a healthy Jamal Murray heading into the playoffs is extremely disappointing and unfortunate. It’s a shame we won’t be able to see what could’ve been from the Nuggets this season.