Donovan Mitchell, Jamal Murray in epic scoring duel entering Jazz-Nuggets Game 7

Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Nuggets guard Jamal Murray
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell scored 57 points – the third-highest-scoring playoff game in NBA history – in Game 1 of the Utah-Denver series. Later that day, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray posted a video to Instagram.

“Crazy thing being out here in the bubble?” Murray said into his selfie camera before flipping the view outward to show Mitchell sitting nearby. “I’ve got to see this dude right after the game. He just dropped FIFTY-SEVEEEEEEN!”

It has gotten even crazier since.

Both Mitchell (51) and Murray (50) cracked 50 points in Game 4. Murray dropped 42 points in Game 5, and Mitchell responded with 44 in Game 6. But Murray maintained the arms race and scored 50 in Game 6.

Mitchell and Murray keep pushing each other, and neither the Jazz nor Nuggets have buckled. The result: One of the most thrilling individual scoring duels of all-time. Mitchell and Murray will extend their battle into Game 7 tonight.

Just four players have ever scored 50 multiple times in a series. Half of them have come in this series:

  • Donovan Mitchell (UTA-DEN in 2020)
  • Jamal Murray (DEN-UTA in 2020)
  • Allen Iverson (PHI-TOR in 2001)
  • Michael Jordan (CHI-CLE in 1988)

And the series isn’t over.

Mitchell is averaging 38.7 points per game against Denver – the second-highest scoring average ever in a series entering Game 7. Only Lakers great Elgin Baylor, who averaged 40.5 points per game in the first six games of the 1962 NBA Finals (which the Celtics eventually won), surpassed Mitchell.

Murray (34.0 points per game) also cracks the leader board.

Here are the players with the highest scoring averages in a series entering Game 7:

Mitchell and Murray are the only players on that leader board in the same series. So, of course, they have the highest combined scoring average between opposing players in a series entering Game 7 (72.7 points per game).

The only time we’ve seen anything like this in several decades? Allen Iverson (35.8 points per game) and Vince Carter (32.2 per game) dueling in 2001 76ers-Raptors, which Philadelphia won. But their combined scoring average entering Game 7 (68.0 points per game) lags well behind Mitchell’s and Murray’s.

Here are the highest combined scoring averages between opposing players in a series entering Game 7:

Of course, the fireworks won’t necessarily continue. Led by Rudy Gobert, Utah’s defense can be imposing. Gary Harris getting healthy lifts Denver’s defense.

But Mitchell and Murray have handled everything thrown their way. Both have been on fire from beyond the arc. Mitchell has regularly exploded to the rim. Both guards have even passed well to take advantage of the defensive attention they receive.

This matchup has been a blast. Hopefully, Game 7 is as fun as everything that preceded it.