Jamal Murray is convinced Nikola Jokic is headed for a Hall-of-Fame career after he inspired the Denver Nuggets past the Utah Jazz and into the Western Conference semi-finals.
The Nuggets ran out 80-78 winners in Tuesday's decisive Game 7 of the thrilling first-round series, overcoming a 3-1 deficit that had been inspired by Utah's Donovan Mitchell.
On a night where Murray struggled to hit the same heights he had reached in previous games in the series, Jokic put up 30 points and added 14 rebounds to help the third-seeded Nuggets book a semi-final against the Los Angeles Clippers.
"Dude's a joke," Murray said of Jokic.
"He does everything. Post up, he shoots it, he passes, he pushes the pace, he's smart, and we definitely needed him today.
"He made clutch baskets and just kept us poised. Even when I didn't have it going or I missed some bunnies or we messed up on defense and they made their push, especially in the third quarter.
"He was our leader for that second half and he did it all so, he's gonna be a Hall of Famer one day."
Jokic scored 17 of Denver's 30 second-half points, the highest percentage of a team's points scored in the second half of a Game 7 over the past 20 years, to receive praise from head coach Michael Malone.
"We are not in a Game 7 without Jamal, but quietly Nikola Jokic was having an outstanding series as well," Malone said.
"And you knew that they would take away Jamal Murray, they tried to do different things tonight, that was their adjustment.
"We were prepared for that. We knew they would try to get the ball out of his hands. That is when you need Nikola to step up."
Jokic himself was expecting a tense series, just maybe not the levels of excitement it provided.
"Before the series started I felt it was going to be an interesting series. But after 3-1 I didn't think it was going to be this interesting," Jokic said.
"So I'm glad that we won the game and I'm glad that we won the series."
Mitchell's 33 three-pointers marked a record for a playoff series and he was proud of the way the team battled after trailing by 19 points in the first half.
"We fought hard and came back. I'd go to war with any one of these guys in the locker room, any one of these coaches," Mitchell, who was helped off the floor by Murray at the buzzer, said.
"We could've easy chalked it up in the first half. We have grit and fight. That's all you can really ask for."
Mitchell added that the emotions following the defeat were nothing compared to what the families who have been affected by police brutality and racism are going through.
"I can only imagine. I wanted to say that. I wanted to get that out there," he said.
"The way I'm feeling right now is nothing compared to that. I appreciate the NBA and everybody in this league for continuing to push that message.
"It's not stopping. I just wanted to say that. Whether we won or lost, that was going to be the first thing said. I should've said it first."