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Injury-plagued Jamal Murray and Denver Nuggets preparing for their first Game 7 since the NBA bubble

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After a tough loss on Thursday night in Minneapolis, the Denver Nuggets will be playing in a Game 7 for the first time since the 2019-2020 season. This one will be at home, unlike the last two Game 7s they played. Both were in the bubble in Orlando, Florida, during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets draws a double team from Jaden McDaniels (3) and Karl-Anthony Towns (32) of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the third quarter at Target Center in Minneapolis on Thursday, May 16, 2024. AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The tipoff time for the game is 6 p.m.

The Nuggets are the closest they've been to being eliminated from a postseason series since they were ousted by the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the NBA Playoffs in 2022.

Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray is hoping the two full days of rest he'll have before Sunday's game will give his injured right elbow time to heal. Early in the first quarter of Thursday's 115-70 loss as he tried to move around a high screen by Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert, Murray hurt his right elbow in the collision with Gobert's raised right elbow and immediately clutched over in pain. He flexed his arm back and forth to try to loosen up the joint as he turned up the court, but it never did.

"I was never really getting into my rhythm again, and my team obviously needed me to tonight, and I didn't," said Murray, who went 4 for 18 for 10 points. "So I'm disappointed in myself for not being able to give them the right production that I know I can."

Jamal Murray (27) of the Denver Nuggets passes during the third quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center in Minneapolis on Thursday, May 16, 2024. AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Murray said he applied some numbing cream to the elbow to allow him to fully extend it on his jumpers without pain, but he never found his rhythm.

Murray, who was nagged by a strained left calf during the first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers, has been bothered by right elbow pain in the past. He wears a protective sleeve over it.

With two off days until the decisive game instead of the typical one, Murray will have additional time to heal. Will that be enough?

"I hope, for our team's sake," he said. "I hope I can get it right."

This has been quite the eventful postseason for Murray, who hit two last-second game-winners to oust the Lakers in five games in the first round. Then he chucked a heat pack onto the court from the bench in Denver during a Game 2 blowout by the Wolves that drew him a $100,000 fine from the league.

He bounced back strong with 24 points to lead the Nuggets to victory in Game 3, then sank a halftime buzzer-beater from beyond half court to highlight the Game 4 win in Minnesota.

Now all eyes will be on him again in Game 7 as he tries to shake off another disruption.

"It's all behind us now," Murray said. "I've just got to get ready and be able to be better for Sunday."

No defending NBA champion had ever lost in the playoffs by more than 36 points until Thursday's flop by the Nuggets.  

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