Michael Malone provides lukewarm update on injured Nuggets star

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets
Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

The Nuggets got back to their winning ways on Sunday, snapping a two-game skid by handily beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 130-101. Nikola Jokic completely controlled the game, looking every bit his MVP self with 26 points, 18 rebounds, and 16 assists. He showed no ill effects from his previously injured wrist.

Denver looked like they ratcheted things up on both ends, the defense was swarming and smothered the Cavs. And the offense was firing on all cylinders, including a lights-out shooting performance from three-point range.

Any reason for concern in Denver?

So all is well again in Denver, right? Well, not exactly. Nuggets’ star Jamal Murray was notably absent from the lineup, missing his fifth straight game with ankle and knee injuries. While the Denver offense certainly looked more than okay on Sunday, there’s no question they desperately need Murray once the playoffs begin.

This offense simply is not the same without him and that will only be amplified in playoff series against the best teams in the NBA. Murray has been ruled ‘Questionable’ for all five games that he’s missed, which is encouraging, but ultimately he hasn’t suited up in over a week now.

Will Murray return before the playoffs?

Perhaps the team is just being incredibly cautious with Murray (as they should), but it’s getting awfully late in the regular season. Ideally, Jamal would have some time to ramp back up and find his rhythm before being thrust into playoff action, perhaps rusty and on a minutes restriction.

According to an article by Ryan McFadden of the Denver Post, Malone was asked about Murray before Friday’s game and said, “I do think he will be back on the court before the playoffs start, I don’t think this is a nine-game injury where he doesn’t play for the rest of the season.”.

Murray injury a red flag

I’m sure Malone meant to be positive, but that’s far from reassuring and sounds much less certain than I would like. The fact that there is even uncertainty about Murray returning before the playoffs is a red flag. 

This seemed like a minor nick that would have Jamal out for a game or two, but now we are speculating about a multi-week absence that could have him missing the final ten-plus games of the season. 

Hopefully, Malone was being conservative and Murray is close to ready, but this is becoming a bigger issue by the day. I’m not pushing the panic button, but I am starting to stretch my fingers.

""He's not there yet""

Michael Malone