Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
#27 Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets celebrates a three-pointer against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. Bleacher Report/Twitter


  • The Denver Nuggets have roared through the Western Conference this season
  • Jamal Murray's presence has boosted them to even greater heights
  • The Nuggets is currently one of six teams to have never made the NBA Finals

The NBA playoffs are the perfect time for the league's best teams and players to establish their legacies, and the Denver Nuggets are quickly proving that they have come a long way since their struggles in the mid-2010s.

Prior to the start of the season, the Nuggets had the ninth-best odds (plus-1800) at winning the NBA title according to Sports Odds History with teams like the Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns being ranked ahead of them

But as the season wore on, their odds of winning it all only got better, going as high as plus-700 by March 1 before reaching a fever pitch in the Western Conference Finals at plus-260.

For most of the season, general consensus had either of the Warriors, Bucks, Boston Celtics or Philadelphia 76ers winning it all due to the star power that each team possessed.

Of those four teams, only the Celtics remain in the 2023 NBA playoffs, but they find themselves on the cusp of being swept by the eighth-seeded Miami Heat.

As for the Nuggets, they had to work towards shedding the label of "championship pretenders" after failing to succeed in their past four postseason appearances.

In 2019, the Nuggets were thrusted into a seven-game semifinal matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers that saw the latter advancing thanks to the efforts of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

The following season saw improvement as they sought to take down the LeBron James and Anthony Davis-led Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals in the NBA Bubble, but they were instead handed a gentleman's sweep.

A sweep to the Phoenix Suns in 2021 and another 4-1 series defeat at the hands of the Golden State Warriors in 2022 only furthered the notion that Denver was not ready yet to compete against elite-level competition.

However, it should be noted that the absence of Jamal Murray due to an ACL tear he suffered in April 2021 was a key component for those lackluster performances against the Suns and Warriors.

"The Blue Arrow" has certainly been making up for lost time this season as he is averaging the third-most points among the four remaining teams with 27.9 points–two points behind teammate Nikola Jokic and Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler.

For Nuggets fans, Murray's first NBA game since the injury marked their return to competing for a chip, though many were still not convinced since the West still had the Stephen Curry-led Warriors, James carrying the Lakers and Kevin Durant being traded to the Suns.

But come playoff time, the Nuggets showed they were on a level of their own by dispatching the Minnesota Timberwolves and Suns in five and six games respectively–all of it coming in spectacular fashion.

The Nuggets deciding to go all in on Michael Porter Jr. as their designated sharpshooter while improving their bench depth with the additions of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Bruce Brown and rookie sensation Christian Braun in the offseason now have them on the cusp of their first NBA Finals appearance at the expense of the Lakers, who face a 3-0 deficit.

Of the 30 teams in the NBA, the Nuggets are one of six franchises that are yet to appear in the grandest stage in professional basketball alongside the Grizzlies, Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans.

With Murray's ability to explode at any given moment combined with Jokic's well-rounded skillsets and a talented core supporting them, the Nuggets only need one more victory over the Lakers at 8:30 PM ET to be four wins closer to the ultimate prize in the NBA–the Larry O'Brien trophy.

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
#15 Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. Jake Coyne/Twitter