We didn’t get an NCAA Tournament this year, but what happened in Orlando sure felt like an NCAA Tournament game.
A winner-take-all postseason game on a neutral court. Complete with lots of turnovers, inexplicable missed calls, good defense, a back-and-forth game with a big comeback, inconsistent offense: this one had all the marks of an NCAA Tournament game.
Most of all, we got a ridiculous end-of-game sequence characterized by terrible decision-making from extremely talented players and an attempt for the win at the buzzer. Seriously, watch this and tell me you’re not watching the end of a Sweet 16 game between Florida and Wisconsin.
Donovan Mitchell averaged 36 PPG but it wasn’t quite enough to get his team by the Nuggets. He was unremarkable in the first half but spectacular in the third quarter and solid throughout the fourth. That tracked quite closely with his team’s performance throughout the evening. It would feel unfair to pin the loss on him, but some would say that they made it as far as he took them.
Jamal Murray was spectacular in the series, particularly in games 4-6, but turned in a rough performance tonight. His teammates picked him up, most notably Nikola Jokic, who poured in 30 points and came up big throughout the fourth quarter including the game winning bucket in the final minute. (side note: Jokic is one ugly motherfucker)
I’m not too worried about Murray, though he’ll need to be spectacular to give this squad a chance against the Clippers in the next round. That series gets going on Thursday. One day off after a win to advance in the postseason tournament? That sounds familiar…….