The Denver Nuggets received a devastating blow Tuesday when guard Jamal Murray was diagnosed with a torn ACL in his left knee. Murray’s injury is expected to keep him out through the 2021 NBA playoffs, severely damaging the team’s championship hopes.

On Monday, Murray suffered the injury with under one minute remaining in Denver’s 116-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors. The Nuggets had been one of the NBA’s hottest teams, winning eight straight games before losing consecutive contests Sunday and Monday.

Denver was considered a legitimate title contender with +1600 odds to win the 2021 NBA Finals at BetMGM. In the wake of Murray’s injury, the Nuggets’ championship odds have nearly doubled, moving to +3000 at the sportsbook.

The Brooklyn Nets are favored with +250 odds to win the NBA Finals. The Los Angeles Lakers are still the favorites in the West at +300. The Los Angeles Clippers (+550), Utah Jazz (+850), Milwaukee Bucks (+900), Philadelphia 76ers (+1100) and Phoenix Suns (+1600) are all given a reasonable chance to compete for this year’s title.

With a 34-20 record, the Nuggets are the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. Denver is coming off a trip to the 2020 conference finals, where they were defeated by the Lakers in five games. The Nuggets were a Game 4 Anthony Davis buzzer-beater away from being tied 2-2 in the series with the eventual NBA champs.

The Nuggets upset the heavily favored Clippers in their second-round playoff series.

A healthy Denver team might have been primed for an even deeper playoff run in 2021.

The Nuggets improved at the trade deadline by acquiring Aaron Gordon. Michael Porter Jr. has evolved into an offensive force, averaging 21.3 points per game on 56.7% shooting since the All-Star break. Nikola Jokic is now the odds-on MVP favorite, leading Denver with averages of 26.2 points, 10.9 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

Murray was a key component in Denver’s title hopes. Not only is the 24-year-old averaging a career-high 21.2 points on 47.7% shooting, but he’s proven that he can shine when it counts the most.

Only a handful of players were more impressive than Murray in the 2020 playoffs. Murray averaged 26.5 points on 50.5% shooting from the field and 45.3% three-point shooting in 19 postseason games. The guard added 6.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds per contest.

Murray scored at least 40 points in four playoff games, including a pair of 50-point performances.

A large portion of the NBA’s top stars have dealt with injuries this season. Anthony Davis, Lebron James, James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo are currently sidelined. Joel Embiid and Kevin Durant have missed time this year. All of those players are expected to be ready for the playoffs.

Without their No. 2 scorer, the Nuggets face an uphill battle in looking to take the next step and contend for a championship.

Denver Nuggets Jamal Murray (L) drives against Royce O'Neale of the Utah Jazz during the first half of an NBA playoff game in Florida
Denver Nuggets Jamal Murray (L) drives against Royce O'Neale of the Utah Jazz during the first half of an NBA playoff game in Florida GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / POOL