Murray ‘feels great’, ‘hungry’ for big Game 7

NBA

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DENVER — Nuggets star guard Jamal Murray is “feeling great” and went through a full practice on Saturday, according to head coach Michael Malone.

Murray injured his right elbow when he ran into a screen set by Rudy Gobert in the opening moments of Minnesota’s 115-70 Game 6 rout of the Nuggets. Murray said after the game on Thursday night that he hoped for his team’s sake he could get his elbow feeling right by Sunday’s Game 7.

But at the end of Saturday’s practice, Murray stayed late to get shots up and could be seen drilling several 3-pointers in a row while an assistant coach challenged the shots.

“He feels great,” Malone said after practice.

Asked if Murray is hungry to play well in Game 7 after shooting just 4-for-18 and scoring 10 points in Game 6, Malone said his point guard “looked very hungry today.”

“Look like he hadn’t eaten in two days,” Malone said. “So hopefully that carries over tomorrow. I hope he doesn’t eat until tomorrow until 6:00 p.m.”

Murray is averaging 19.7 points on 50% shooting, including 42% on 3-pointers, in Denver’s three wins this series. In the three losses to Minnesota, Murray is averaging 11.7 points and 26% shooting.

Game 7, though, won’t be a new experience for Murray, Nikola Jokic and Malone. Those three have been in four Game 7’s since the 2019 postseason. They are 3-1 in those games, winning their past two in the NBA bubble when the Nuggets came back from down 3-1 to beat the Jazz and Clippers in the first two rounds in 2020.

“The message is simple, man,” Malone said of what he told his team. “Game 7’s are great. Enjoy it. Me, Jamal and Nikola, we’ve been part of four of those games in our six years in the playoffs. That’s why you work so hard to get home-court advantage for, in front of the best fans in the NBA.

“And we know that in Game 7, every possession matters. There can be no ‘my bad’s’ tomorrow.”

Michael Porter Jr., who has scored a total of 18 points in the past three games, says the defending champs have plenty of big-game experience to lean on. He also cited how the Nuggets beat the Wolves at home, 116-107, in the third-to-last regular-season game when both teams were jockeying for home-court advantage in the postseason.

“Game 7’s are always great games,” Porter said. “But we played in a lot of big games, you know what I mean?

“… We had a similar game against them to decide what was supposed to be the 1-seed late in the season. So we played this team in big moments, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

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