When the Lakers pin their hopes on "mathematical expectations", the Lakers can only accept the fate of losing the big gamble.
In Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, Jamal Murray scored 23 points in the fourth quarter, and he faced LeBron James and Anthony Davis to switch defenses and hit multiple difficult goals. At that point, you can say, "Murray is hard to keep this kind of performance."
This is in line with the "mathematical expectations" view, but with Jimmy Butler before and Murray in the back, there are so few people who can beat the "mathematical expectations" on the magical stage of the playoffs.
In the first quarter of Game 3, Murray continued the hot hand of Game 2 and the fourth quarter. Crotch dribbling pullback step mid-range shot, emergency stop dry jumper, strong three-point shot in the face of Davis, back-to-back single-hand turnover jumper... Murray sacrificed eighteen martial arts, and saw that the move tore apart the Lakers' first defense in the playoffs.
In the game, Murray shot 15 of 29, including 5 of 11 three-pointers, and 2 of 2 free throws to cut 37 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. In the three games of the Western Conference Finals, Murray scored 31, 37 and 37 points, respectively.
In the first three games of this round, the best performer was not two-time MVP Jokic, but Murray. In Jokic's words: "Murray is our best player and we're all following him. ”
Even a genius needs a guide to light his way ahead, and Murray is fortunate that, unlike many black players born into single-parent families who grew up without a father's love, Murray has a qualified and reliable father. When Murray was a baby, his father, Roger Murray, would push the stroller to the edge of the basketball court and let him listen to the sound of the basketball crashing against the floor.
Murray was born in Jamaica and moved to Canada when he was 9 years old. Murray himself has strong sports genes, plus Roger has been engaged in athletics, basketball, he knows how to train, Murray grew up quickly under the guidance of his father, he can be described as a teenager.
It is reported that Murray can play basketball for hours at the age of three, participate in some games and play with 10-year-olds at the age of 6, and by the time he is 12 or 13 years old, he can even play with some top high school students and college students. Looks like Murray is a child prodigy, right? But like every successful person, behind genius is countless sweat. If you understand how brutal Murray's training was as a child, you wouldn't define Murray simply by "genius."
When Murray was 7, Roger would require him to make 30 consecutive free throws to rest, and he forbade Murray to use his cellphone, play video game consoles, and waste time at the mall. In the winter, Roger would have Murray train outdoors in the snow, such as doing push-ups in the snow, and he would use the crossbar of a football goal to do pull-ups. What if the outdoor basketball court is flooded or a makeshift ice rink is erected? Roger will have Murray practice dribbling on the ice.
In the Western Conference Finals, Murray scored points on Russell and Schroder's heads many times, including the Suns in the last round, and Murray also used low-post singles many times, all thanks to Murray's hard training as a child. Murray revealed that he played as a center as a kid and he studied the low footsteps of Olajuwon, Jordan, Nowitzki and Gay.
All kinds of brutal training forged a fast-growing Murray, he has excellent athletic talent, he can open the bow left and right, he has excellent balance, his physical fitness, technical polishing is completely in accordance with NBA standards. Because Roger's goal is not just to get his son into the NBA, but to become one of the best players in the NBA, if not one of them. After gritting his teeth and completing his father's training on his hellish difficulty, Murray transformed.
In the summer of 2015, Murray chose to join the University of Kentucky, playing under John Calipari. Everyone knows that Murray came with the goal of playing a year to enter the NBA draft, and in a season in Kentucky, Murray averaged 20 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, shooting 40.8% from three-point range, he was selected to the AP All-NBA Third Team, and was selected as the No. 7 pick in the draft to join the Nuggets.
The secret of success
On November 16, 2018, in the Nuggets' 138-93 win over the Hawks, Murray, who was supposed to play as a starter, was suddenly relegated to the bench. The reason why Murray came off the bench after the game was exposed: late for shooting warm-up training.
In disciplined professional teams, being late is not allowed, but in fact, Murray was late for a reason, he trained too late the night before, fell asleep in bed, and the alarm clock did not wake him up. For Murray, training late into the night was commonplace, with one pull-up until after 12 a.m. and another time practicing in the arena until 2 a.m. to practice three-pointers. The point is, he was already shooting 45 percent from three-point range by then.
In the eyes of Nuggets executives, hard work is certainly a good thing, but everything has to have a degree, Tim Connelly, then the Nuggets' president of basketball operations, said: "Like I told Murray, his efforts can play A, but please, everything has a degree." We talked to him and let him get out of the stadium and take good care of his body, because 82 games a season is very hard and more doesn't always mean better. ”
Murray has admitted that the team did urge him to reduce the number of midnight training sessions, but Murray responded: "I don't care, they can't stop me." ”
This is not the first time Murray has been "warned" by the team for working too hard but ignored, before the 2015 World Championships, Murray participated in the Canadian men's basketball training camp, he had to practice for two hours in addition to completing the team's group training. Canadian men's basketball assistant general manager Rowan Barrett (also known as the father of Knicks star Barrett) was worried that Murray would run out of physical injury, and he directly confiscated Murray's sneakers.
"Then I came back to the pitch and found him playing barefoot!" Barrett recalled.
Overcoming the shadow of serious injuries
In the 2020 playoffs, Murray received the nickname "Murray of the Park", and his crazy performance was recognized by the world, and coach Malone believed that Murray was already approaching the height of a superstar.
However, on April 13, 2021, Murray suffered a serious injury season reimbursement from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the Nuggets and Warriors, and he did not play a game last season because he was recovering from injury, and only returned this season.
For Murray, being unable to play for a long time is an ordeal, but thanks to many friends who are also NBA players, Murray said: "All the players who have suffered major injuries have basically contacted me, they just told me to keep working hard, and recovering from injuries is a marathon." ”
Murray has experienced many iterations during his recovery from injury, admitting: "You have a lot of doubts in your heart, and you think: Will I be different when I come back from injury? Can I still play the same performance as before? Can I still be worthy of my contract? Will I be traded? ”
"The first month was really tough, you constantly doubt yourself, you are in a kind of unknown, you don't know where to lead, you don't know when the end of the tunnel will be light."
Speaking about Murray's journey since his ACL injury, Malone said: "His first thought was, 'Are you going to trade me?'" I hugged him and said, 'Definitely not.' ’”
Speaking about Murray's mentality after his injury, Malone said that his mentality is - "I not only want to go back to the level I was at in Bubble Park, but I also want to know how to get to the next level. ”
Luckily, Murray was surrounded by such a supportive group of coaches and players, and his spiritual idol Bruce Lee gave him motivation. Many football stars worship ancient stars, but Murray worships Bruce Lee, he once said: "Bruce Lee is the equivalent of Kobe Bryant in the martial arts world, he has absolute concentration, I like Bruce Lee because he can stimulate your inner spiritual power and allow you to maximize your abilities." ”
Murray's "Bruce Lee spirit" helped him through the darkest phase, and he learned how to calm himself down in the face of adversity, face problems head-on, and find the most suitable solutions.
Murray experienced a slump when he first returned this season, but as his fitness improved, Murray gradually improved. In the playoffs, Murray once again played far beyond the regular season level, and many people exclaimed "Park Murray is back", but in the eyes of Murray himself, Porter Jr. and Jokic, Murray is even stronger than the Park version.
In the 2019-20 playoffs, Murray averaged 26.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 0.9 steals per game. In the 2023 playoffs, Murray averaged 27.9 points plus 5.6 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 1.6 steals per game, and other statistics are higher except for assists. From the high-level statistics, when Murray was on the floor, the Nuggets won by 9.3 points per 100 rounds, far higher than the 0.3 points in 2020, and his influence skyrocketed.
In 2020, the US data website "538 Network" wrote that Murray is the closest player to Stephen Curry in the league today, a conclusion that was also recognized by Steve Kerr. At the time, data analyst Pina said Murray would remind James of the fear of being dominated by Curry.
In the 2020 Western Conference Finals, Murray didn't do it. But 3 years later, Murray finally did.