‣ Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic led the Denver Nuggets to their first-ever NBA title last season, and now face the pressure of defending their championship.
‣ Murray is still trying to return to his best form after suffering an injury at the start of the season, which has led to him missing half of the Nuggets’ games so far.
‣ Despite the challenges, Murray is optimistic about the season and appreciates the support from fans, particularly during the team’s recent visit to Toronto.
Jamal Murray is down to play for Team Canada at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. 🇨🇦
— theScore (@theScore)
Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic teamed up last season. They clinched the NBA title with the Nuggets, marking Denver’s first-ever league title. The Nuggets are more accustomed to being the hunters, not the hunted.
The squad recently visited Toronto. It was their first match in Canada since becoming champions. Murray, the point guard, confessed that the feeling was different now. They are the team to beat, a shift from their usual stance of battling for the title.
Jamal shared some insights after the game. “It’s been more preparation for each game,” he said. He had just scored 20 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds in the Nuggets’ 113-104 victory over the Raptors. “Last year we were coming in with something to prove, night in and night out.”
The pressure, according to Murray, is different. “It’s a little different when you’re trying to defend it. You constantly have that pressure of somebody hunting you and each team does something different really good,” he explained.
Murray hails from Ontario, a city about 100 kilometers from Toronto. He received a thunderous ovation from the sold-out crowd at the Scotiabank Arena. The Raptors had even prepared a video to honor the Canadian superstar.
“I appreciate Toronto for having me on the screen and all that,” the 26-year-old said. “Just little stuff like that means a lot.” He added, “Obviously, it’s good to come here and try to put on a show in front of my friends and family. It’s a blessing to be in this position.”
The Denver star arrived in Canada with an average of 18.3 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.2 rebounds from 14 games this season. These stats are lower than those he achieved last season. During his championship season, he averaged 20 points, 6.2 assists, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal in 65 games. He played a crucial role in the Nuggets’ playoff run.
Murray is still trying to regain his top form. He missed half of Denver’s games due to injury. The primary reason for his struggle to return to his best is an injury he suffered at the start of the campaign. The 26-year-old has missed half of the Nuggets’ games, and the team is now 19-10.
His head coach, Michael Malone, commented on his progress. “He’s finding his rhythm and when he first came back from the injury, he’s got a minute restriction. That’s frustrating,” Malone said. “He really can’t find a rhythm when he being told, just when you get loose, you’ve got to come out. Now as he’s getting away from that restriction, I think he’s finding his rhythm.”
When asked about his health, Murray joked, “which injury?” His main issues are his quadriceps, ankles, and a hamstring. These aren’t fully healed yet. “I’m still trying to get there,” the star guard shared. “Obviously, I’ve been in and out of the lineup, just trying to get my body right. I’ve been on a minute restriction for a while now. I’m just trying to build my way up and stay healthy for the remainder of the season. It’s been a rocky beginning but I think we’re on the right track.”