Fans of the San Antonio Spurs may not have a rooting interest in the ongoing NBA Finals. Despite that, the two-man game of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray has drawn comparisons to two Spurs legends. Following the Miami Heat's Game 1 loss, Kyle Lowry specifically mentioned Tim Duncan and Tony Parker during an answer about who Jokic and Murray remind him of.
The Nuggets offense is reminiscent of the "beautiful game" Spurs
For Spurs fans who have tuned into the NBA Finals, it's hard not to notice the similarities between the "Beautiful Game" Spurs and these Denver Nuggets. Both teams rely heavily on passing bigs and shifty point guards to generate offense. While Duncan wasn't on the same level as Jokic as a passer, he was still terrific. Duncan was a master at finding cutters at the top of the free throw line, including Parker, who would often run off multiple screens on the same possession to get open.
Parker and Duncan also developed into a deadly pick-and-roll pairing after the Spurs went away from Duncan's post-ups. During the Spurs Western Conference Finals run in 2012 and their NBA Finals run in 2013, Duncan was a legit pick-and-pop threat, shooting a high percentage on mid-range jumpers created by Parker.
He also took advantage of Parker's playmaking to score easy baskets. Duncan's knack for setting hard screens, coupled with Parker's speed and ability to navigate screens, put opposing guards at a disadvantage and often forced Duncan's man to try and cut Parker off at the rim. Duncan would simply run behind Parker's drive to the basket and finish off his dump-off passes.
Jokic and Murray operate in much the same way. Jokic sets hard screens, and Murray is terrific at using those screens to get open. Depending on how the defense reacts, Jokic can knock down a three or put the ball on the floor, barrel his way to the rim, and float a shot up. Jokic, of course, also quarterbacks on the perimeter, often leading to easy shots for Murray.
Considering Lowry is old enough to have played against Duncan and Parker, he's seen firsthand how similar Jokic and Murray are to two Spurs greats. Both pairings were symbiotic, with one another's skills making the other's life much easier. Jokic himself has praised Duncan, which by extension is praise for Parker too.
Although the Spurs aren't playing in the NBA Finals, Denver's brand of basketball is reminiscent of the Spurs' championship offense. With the series now tied 1-1 heading to Miami, it will be interesting to see if Denver can bury Miami like that Spurs team did.