On Wednesday night, Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic made NBA history as the first teammates to each post 30-point triple-doubles in the same game — postseason or regular season.
The two combined for 66 points, 31 rebounds, and 20 assists as they carried the Nuggets to a 109-94 win in Game 3 over the Miami Heat, reclaiming the advantage in the series after blowing a fourth quarter lead at home in Game 2. Murray, who struggled in that loss, bounced back in a big way by scoring 20 of his 34 points in the first half to help Denver wrangle control of the game from Miami by the halftime break. Jokic had a first half double-double, but really took over to start the third quarter as the Nuggets extended their lead and never gave it back.
The catalyst for Denver’s offense waking up was the two-man game of Jokic and Murray, as the two stars are as lethal as it comes working off of each other. Whether in pick-and-rolls or handoff actions, they are always in sync and are incredibly good at creating space for each other to thrive. After the game, Murray was asked about that two-man action and broke down how it has little to do with there being actual playcalls, but just “a trust and a feel” between the two stars to know what the other is going to do and what they want you to do.
“It’s a trust and a feel…not really X’s and O’s.”
— NBA (@NBA) June 8, 2023
It’s fascinating to hear Murray talk about how it’s not just reading how defenses are guarding their actions, but about how they’re also always in tune with how the other is feeling on the court. They know when one of them is dragging a bit and the other needs to pick up the slack, or if one’s feeling particularly aggressive or hot the other will look to make sure to feed them and keep that going. It’s the kind of partnership that can only come from years of experience, which is something Denver’s stars have that few others in the league can replicate.
It’s also why they are so hard to defend, because there isn’t often a specific play they’re trying to run when they work a pick-and-roll or handoff, but just reading and reacting — both to the defense and their co-star. Defending an action without a defined endpoint is incredibly difficult, and when they’re at their best, Jokic and Murray both have the patience to reset and run it again until they get the look they want. That was the case in Game 3 when they controlled the game on that end of the floor, and even with strong defenders in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo doing their best, there’s just not much a defense can do when both have that good feeling.