Nuggets’ Jamal Murray injury update for crucial Game 5 vs. Timberwolves

Tony Nguyen | Denver Nuggets
May 14, 2024

The Denver Nuggets have changed the entire narrative of the Western Conference semi finals against the Minnesota Timberwolves and it is mainly because of the efforts of stars Nikola Jokic and especially Jamal Murray. When it comes to the latter, his status for Tuesday’s Game 5 is up in the air due to his listing on the Nuggets’ latest injury report.

According to the 10:30 a.m. (eastern standard time) injury report from the NBA, it has Murray listed as “questionable” with a left calf strain suffered in Denver’s Game 4 win on Sunday night. While it remains to be seen if he will be able to suit up, his potential absence will be a major blow to the Nuggets despite them being a deep team.

However, what has led to the immense amount of success for the Nuggets in their championship run last season and their current postseason run has been the play of Murray who was always known to be a playoff riser. It has been put on display this series as with the Timberwolves taking an early 2-0 series lead, Murray has been at the forefront in making this now a 2-2 tie going into Game 5.

Murray has had an up-and-down rollercoaster of a playoff series

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) works around Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) as forward Aaron Gordon (50) sets a pick in the third quarter of game four of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Target Center.
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

In Game 3 where the Nuggets had a chance of going down 3-0, Murray came alive and had a crucial 24 points that led the team. Specifically for that game, Murray was being booed by the Minnesota faithful after an incident where he threw a heat pack onto the court when he was on the bench which spurted a massive debate after he was not suspended by the association.

“That definitely fueled me during the game,” Murray said on the Timberwolves’ crowd booing him via Nuggets ClutchPoints reporter Rachel Strand. “And just keeps me in that mode. So it’s fun. I embrace that challenge, I embrace that moment. I probably deserved the boos, so I’m not shying away from it.”

While the play of Nikola Jokic is as important, if not more, they are the perfect compliment to one another which resulted in an NBA championship last season where they beat the Miami Heat in five games. Nuggets head coach Michael Malone talked about Murray jumping through the hurdles to have a great performance in Game 3.

“He does kind of relish those moments where he’s a bad guy,” Malone said. “To me, that beginning of the game, you’re in hostile territory, and that’s kind of where you separate the man from the boys.”

Murray talks guarding Anthony Edwards

Murray would have a solid Game 4 where besides scoring 19 points, making eight of his 17 shots from the field, he also recorded eight assists and collected five rebounds. He also has a handful to deal with on the defensive end where he is primarily covering Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards who has been phenomenal in the playoffs as he described his game as “explosive” according to Jasmyn Wimbish of CBS Sports.

“Anthony [Edwards] scored a lot at the end, we just didn’t want to overcommit or open up the 3-point line, but there’s still areas where we can be a lot better,” Murray said. “He’s downhill, he’s tough to guard, he’s explosive. He’s always in attack mode, so I think we can do a better job of giving him some attention.”

However, the two are caught in heated competition as after the Nuggets won Game 4 to tie the series at two wins a piece, Murray and Edwards were exchanging words with one another. It didn’t lead to any physical altercation, but one can easily tell it was both boasting their own teams as Edwards went more into what he said after scoring 44 points despite the loss.

“I just told his ass we love that,” Edwards said. “‘Keep talking [like] that. That’s what we like.’ Well, I loved it. He didn’t say nothing back. But I’m pretty sure he heard me. They heard me. You live for that.”

No momentum for Murray, Nuggets per Edwards

Even with it being a tied up series, the Timberwolves seem to be the team that is in the mud as they have now lost two straight, both on their home floor and to take control back of the series, they have to win in Denver. One would think that the Nuggets have all the momentum in the world at the moment heading into Tuesday night, but Edwards would have to disagree with that notion.

“I don’t think they got any momentum,” Edwards said. “We won two games. They won two games. At this point, it’s whoever wins two games. I don’t know how people look at it, but I look at it like I’m happy. I’m ready. It’s competing at the highest level. I’m smiling about it because I’m happy. I’m ready to go play. If we played tomorrow, I’d be ready. It’s going to be fun.”

What has been clearly seen in the past two contests is the championship winning team in the Nuggets from last season where even when the chips are down, they are a team you can never count out. Malone spoke after the Game 4 victory to express this same sentiment while quoting former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“What I found is Rudy T is right, man,” Malone said. “‘Never underestimate the heart of a champion.’ They were quick to write us off, but these guys, we won a championship a year ago. We went into Miami [in the NBA Finals], won two games in a row. This team has been tested time and time again, and we found a way to solve whatever’s been thrown at us.”

Denver can’t celebrate yet as an important Game 5 looms ahead

However, the mindset for the Nuggets shouldn’t be positive as of yet as even though winning two straight in Minnesota is impressive, the series is not over yet. Plus, the Timberwolves are still a dangerous team that has explosive offense and lockdown defense, which will be a focus to dismantle from Malone.

“This series is a long way from being over. We’re not celebrating. It’s 2-2. … But what I found about our group is that they do believe in themselves. And more importantly, they believe in the man next to them. We have a group that is acting as you would hope a championship team would act.”

Game 5 between Denver and Minnesota will take place Tuesday night as the Nuggets looks to get back to the Western Conference Finals and overcome a 0-2 deficit which only 33 teams have been able to do in the history of the league. As for the Timberwolves, they are hungry as they have not reached that far in the postseason since the 2003-2004 season.