NBA playoffs start with epic Donovan Mitchell-Jamal Murray showdown


In the middle of a Monday afternoon in August, social media was buzzing. The start of the NBA playoffs had created a stir. Consider it one positive of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Jazz and Nuggets gave everyone a treat, kicking off the postseason by going to overtime in the bubble at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla.

The third-seeded Nuggets prevailed, 135-125, surviving Donovan Mitchell’s Jazz franchise playoff record of 57 points. Denver’s duo of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic were too good, combining for 65 points, 36 from Murray.

In the extra session, Murray scored 10 points, taking over after Jokic missed a potential game-winner to end regulation. Mitchell, the Westchester native, was incredible in his own right, hitting 19-of-33 shots and adding nine rebounds and seven assists. It wasn’t enough as the sixth-seeded Jazz fell short.

“You just said he had 57? Damn D, he was killing us…. He had 57? I am just going to keep saying it,” Murray told ESPN in the postgame interview.

Donovan Mitchell
Donovan MitchellGetty Images

Late in regulation, the two put on an absolute show, combining to score 19 consecutive points, answering jumper for jumper.

The two actually have something in common: They both could’ve been Knicks. In the 2017 NBA Draft, the Knicks passed on Mitchell with the eighth pick in the draft and instead took Frank Ntilikina. In 2016, the Nuggets picked Murray with the seventh overall pick, a selection they received from the Knicks in the Carmelo Anthony trade.

The Knicks would obviously love to have either player now.

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