Jamal Murray misses another game, injury grows more concerning by the day

Mar 29, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray
Mar 29, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Without overreacting too much to games that have happened in March and April, one thing is abundantly clear. The Nuggets need Jamal Murray back badly. For the most part, the team has managed to do well without him winning enough games to stay in the hunt for the one seed in the Western Conference, but something is missing.

Murray First left a game a few weeks ago with a sprained ankle against the Knicks and did not return. Since then, he’s now missed six games in a row, both with an ankle injury and then with a knee injury. Murray has been questionable for every game, so hopefully the injury is not too major but ultimately he has sat out each one.

When will Murray be back?

He’s already been ruled questionable for the Nuggets next game and coach. Mike Malone expected expressed optimism that he may be able to suit up. However, that seems far from a certainty and time is quickly running out.

The Nuggets now have just five more games in the regular season before another playoff run begins. With Murray, we saw this team win a championship last year and they’re favorites to win the West yet again this season. 

But without Murray, we’ve seen a team that is good, but not great, and just doesn’t have the highest ceiling offensively, even with the greatest player alive Nikola Jokić playing great basketball.

Nuggets offense not the same without Murray

Even in wins, the Nuggets have been struggling to reach the 100-point threshold recently, a mark that used to be routine. Perhaps more troubling, Jokic is playing some of his best ball, and despite all that, scoring still seems to be an issue, even against some of the worst teams in the league.

In the regular season, Murray may be a ceiling raiser, but in the postseason he’s much more; he’s a rock. The team needs him not only for his ballhandling skills and his playmaking but also for his scoring and shooting gravity. 

The two-man game between Murray and Jokic is arguably the most unstoppable force in the NBA. Without him, Jokic is still amazing and has other options but something about the Nuggets just seems beatable.

If he’s not fully healthy, there’s no question the Nuggets can’t rush him back. A compromised Murray, or Murray at risk of re-injury simply does them no good. But at the same time, there aren’t many games left for Murray to get back on the court to get his rhythm back and get reacclimated with playing,

Denver has no shot without a healthy Murray

Throwing Murray out there in a playoff game to get back to speed and shake off. The rust is certainly not an ideal scenario, especially in a loaded Western conference where even around one matchup will likely pose a threat. But at the same time, it’s looking like the Nuggets may not have any other option.

Hopefully, Murray can re-join the team soon and can take the court for some of these final regular season games just to use them as a tuneup. Ideally, everything goes well, he’s able to get back up to speed, and is almost 100% by the start of the playoffs rendering this a non-story.

But unfortunately, we’ve seen injuries linger with Murray. This one has already gone longer than expected, and there frankly just isn’t much time left. This was a small blip on the radar that has slowly turned into a huge one that the nugget must figure out quickly if they hope to defend their title, 

Otherwise, this western conference will be an uphill battle and a very tough test even for the Nuggets and a full-strength Nikola Jokić without Jamal Murray they just aren’t the favorites in the west anymore.