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Jamal Murray warns that everyone will shoot better in the next game after the Nuggets defeated the Lakers in Game 1

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) warms up before the Nuggets play the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the NBA playoffs at Ball Arena in Denver on Saturday, April 20, 2024. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Darvin Ham claims that the Lakers are reserving in-game tactics against Nikola Jokic for future games. He made a similar claim last year, and Denver ended up sweeping the Lakers. Meanwhile, Jamal Murray is using lessons from the past in

If Jamal Murray's statement holds true, the Lakers may have missed their chance to make this playoff rematch an interesting series.

Murray thinks the Nuggets were too excited at the start of Game 1, affecting their shot-making, including his own, on open looks. They eventually settled down.

It brought back memories of their playoff opener in 2023 for him.

Murray believes there was a greater energy at the beginning, causing him to put more on his jump shots. He mentioned that he was not shooting as well as he did in practice in the first half.

In the first half, the Nuggets shot 6 for 23 (26%) from 3-point range, despite quality looks created by double-teams on Nikola Jokic, and they only trailed 60-57.

The Lakers needed flawless game-planning and execution in the first quarter and some misses from Denver to take a narrow lead at halftime. Then the Nuggets improved their shooting in the second half, leading to their victory in Game 1.

If Murray's assessment is accurate, and the first half was just due to Game 1 nerves, the Lakers might struggle to win this series.

In the first half of Game 1 against the Timberwolves, Murray shot 3 for 10 from the floor, but he improved in the rest of the series. Denver won in five games.

Murray was 3 for 11 in the first half of Game 1 against the Lakers.

What does “shooting like it’s practice” really mean?

According to Murray, it's about your overall mood and spirit, not rushing your shot, having your feet set, and being less excited to see the ball go in. He had a similar experience last year against Minnesota.

Murray thinks that not only he, but everyone on the team, will shoot better in the next game.

If what Lakers coach Darvin Ham says is true, this series could end in a four-game sweep, just like last year.

Ham mentioned that the Lakers have more defensive adjustments to make against Jokic, who performed exceptionally well in Game 1. They tried different strategies, including adding a second defender, but it didn't work later in the game. After the loss, Ham said they didn't want to use all of their adjustments in Game 1.

Go back to Game 1 of the 2023 Western Conference Finals and imagine the scene.

During the fourth quarter, Hachimura became the main defender against Jokic while Davis provided help from the weak side. This strategy worked briefly.

Ham said after the game that they didn't want to make too many changes during the game. He compared the game to a chess match and was satisfied with the outcome. He mentioned that they have other tactics they didn't use that night, including the one they used against Jokic. He implied that they may use it again in the future. But they have other tactics they haven't revealed yet.

His hint created a lot of speculation and debate in the news between games. It turns out that the tactics he kept secret led to three more losses.

The Lakers have now lost nine games in a row, and yet Ham's comments indicate a similar approach to the rematch, as if they haven't fully learned from their mistakes.

While the Lakers are disregarding the past, Murray is drawing from his own. That's why he didn't panic when the Nuggets fell behind by 12 points at home. At one point in the third quarter, he signaled for his teammates to stay calm before initiating a play.

Denver experienced a 17-point swing over 10 minutes.

Murray said, "We know what we want. We're not trying anything different. We're not making things up. Everyone knows where they should be, and they know that if they are there, they'll get open shots. That's the beauty of this team. It's genuine basketball. There's no uncertainty like in street basketball, where you don't know where the shot will come from."

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