Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray are taking different paths to domination


The NBA has the most engaging court-court story happening between Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray, each of which obviously cannot be stopped. In the first round series between the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets, Star Guard has stolen the show. With their combined performances, Mitchell and Murray now account for first- (101 in Game 4), third- (94 in Game 6) and fourth-most points (93 in Game 1) with scores scored by opposition players Same playoff game.

Mitchell is averaging a playoff-leading 38.7 points per game, with 54.8 percent from the field and 55.4 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. He scored 57 points in Game 1 loss to Utah, the third-most points anyone has ever scored in a playoff game. They combined for only 50 points in Utah’s stormy win in Games 2 and 3, but then went for 51 in Game 4 as they surpassed Murray, who dropped 50. Mitchell did all he could to help the Jazz out of the series, scoring 74 points. 48 shots in Games 5 and 6, but it wasn’t enough – largely because its counterpart was absolutely nuclear.

Murray scored 142 points in just 74 shot attempts through 6 in Games 4, a point total for three successive postshen games. Exceeded Only by Michael Jordan (1988) and Jerry West (1965). In the process, the two became dead First player after Alan Iverson (2001) to score 40 or more in three consecutive postdeneous games and First player after His Airness (190) To score 50 or more points by catching five or more rebels and five or more assists in three straight playoff matches. With their two 50-point games, Murray and Mitchell have now gone for half a hundred each More often this postson than the entire NBA Between 2007 and 2016.

Add it all up, and you have two players, whose production through the first six matches of the series has been almost the same. But while the two stars have produced similar raw aggregates, players have attacked opposing strongholds quite differently.

Both players are fully trapped in the flames during the fourth quarter (and an overtime period) in the series, but they have gone about their late-game explosions in uneven fashion. Murray has fully connected on 16 bonuses, one of 19 shots from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter and overtime, accounting for 48 of his 78 points in those periods (a share of about 62 percent). Mitchell, on the other hand, got himself into the free-throw line late in the game. He has added 22 of his 24 foul shots in the final period, for 78-quarters of his total and 28 percent of overtime points.

Overall, Mitchell has done most of his work with the ball in his hands. Other spectrum tracking data shows that while he was in the game, the Jazz held the ball 43.2 percent of the time, while a rate that was higher than Murray and Denver (38.8 percent).

According to Second Spectrum, Mitchell’s 257 picks and rolls are the second highest number of players who have run in the playoffs so far, behind only 328 of Luca Doncic. Those ball screens have also been wildly profitable: out of the 20 players who have done the least. During the playoffs 100 on-ball screens, Mitchell has scored the second-most points.

Michelle has been able to make her way freely into the lane, where she has shown a delightful array of interior finishes. His 126 drives are second in the playoffs so far, again only behind Donczyk. And like his pick and roll, his drive has been wildly profitable: among the 24 players who have driven the paint from the perimeter at least 50 times during pentissen, Mitchell’s drive scored the sixth-most points per possession. Have done.

Utah has done better than almost anything else in this series, however, putting Mitchell in a favorable matchup in isolation. Whether cross-matching with the ball screen and then a switch, transition or other means, Mitchell has repeatedly been able to attract the likes of Jeremy Grant (the favorite digender over Mitchell for most of the series), Michael Ron Jr. , Monte Morris or Nikola Jokic in open space and break them easily.

While Murray has done excellent work in isolation and also on pick and roll, he has engaged in those tasks less frequently than Mitchell. Conversely, even though he is primarily a point defender and Mitchell has played both, Murray has actually done more than the ball. His 72 dribble handoffs are by far the most in the playoffs by second spectrum, while he ranked third in 94 off-ball screens. Murray is more likely to make a shot for himself than Mitchell or a teammate who passes on handoffs and off-ball screens, while they are equally likely to do so on the sidelines and ball-screens.

Michelle and Murray are scoring in different ways

Direct shots, turnovers, or fouls in the 2020 NBA Playoffs by act, number and share of Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray

Michelle died
Work Number % Evident Number % Evident
Isolation 53 88.7% 21 90.5%
Pick up and roll 257 76.7 184 75.5
Dribble handoffs 39 41.0 72 73.6
Off screen 41 36.6 94 56.4

Direct actions cease with the ball-handler shooting, fouled, turning the ball or making a pass that produces a shot attempt within a dribble of the catch.

Source: Second Spectrum

It is no surprise that Murray has been the most frequent recipient of the dribble handoff during the playoffs. Only two players who received more handoffs during the regular season (Bradley Beal and Devin Booker) are both watching the postseason at home. Unexpectedly, Murray’s regular-season dribble handoff was also incredibly profitable: out of 67 players who received 250 handoffs or more, Murray generated the seventh-most points per possession for his team.

In the playoffs, he has really taken things to a new level. The recipient has scored 87 points through the first six matches of the series as a 72 handoff with Murray. He is the highest in the league. The next two closest marks are those of Mitchell and his teammate Mike Conley, who have generated 88 points in 78 combined handoffs.

The Jazz, like other Nuggets opponents, certainly know that the Murray handoff is coming, especially late in games. And yet they still can’t manage to stop it. Currently there is only roll type in Morena.

When your aggressive plan is doing this well, there is no real reason to change the strategy. So in tonight’s Game 7, we should expect both Mitchell and Murray to be the same: Donovan, smashing an overlapping nugget into space; Jamal, running swiftly around the screen to take a handoff or curl, rips apart the jumpers in an unassuming Jazzman’s grill. With the second round trip on the line, each player will need to perform at their best. Given the way things have moved so much, we should not expect anything less.

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Correction (September 1, 2020, 3:06 pm): An earlier version of this article falsified Jamal Murray’s 50-score game. He has scored 50 points twice in the playoffs, not three times and Mitchell has also scored 50 points twice.

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