Game: Denver Nuggets @ Phoenix Suns
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Odds: Nuggets +4, Suns
The Denver Nuggets are halfway home. The Western Conference’s top seed took care of business on its own floor to start their conference semifinals series with a 2-0 lead. Now, the Phoenix Suns will have the opportunity to bounce back with Games 3 and 4 at their home. Tonight, the Suns will try to get a win on the board to avoid going down 3-0.
In its two wins at home, Denver won by an average of 14 points, including a 97-87 victory in Game 2 in which Nikola Jokic, a two-time MVP, recorded 39 points, 16 rebounds, and five assists. Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers was announced as this year’s MVP winner, denying Jokic three straight. Jokic would surely take an NBA title instead.
In the final 12 minutes of Game 2, the Nuggets trailed by three points. Denver subsequently held the Suns to just 14 points on 7-for-25 shooting. Phoenix missed all nine of its three-point attempts. Denver’s Jamal Murray struggled too. After scoring 34 points in Game 1, Jamal Murray struggled to get to 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting. It was okay, though, as Jokic had his back.
In the third quarter of Game 2, Phoenix point guard Chris Paul was battling for a rebound when he hurt his groin. He is listed as out for tonight’s game and it is very likely that he will not play in Game 4 on Sunday either.
Paul will be replaced by Cameron Payne. In 17 minutes of Game 2 action, Payne finished with two points on 1-for-7 shooting, leaving the Suns with a minus-16 score while he was on the court. Paul’s absence will put Devin Booker and Kevin Durant in charge of getting the Suns back into the series.
In the first two games, Booker has averaged 31 points and seven assists while Durant has scored 26.5 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. What Phoenix really needs is for C Deandre Ayton to step up and provide a spark. Ayton has been severely outplayed by Jokic. Ayton is averaging 14 points and 7.5 rebounds in the series so far.
Denver will once again rely on its star. Jokic went 9-for-21, scored 24 points and had 19 rebounds in Game 1. He shot 17-of-30 in Game 2. Jokic averaged a triple-double – 24.8 points, 13.1 rebounds, and 11.1 assists at home this season. On the road, he’s averaged 24.2, 10.6, and 8.5.
Denver is 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS in its last eight games. The Nuggets are 4-2 SU and 5-1 ATS in their last six games against Phoenix. Denver hasn’t been as good on the road recently going 1-5 in their last six away from home. The Nuggets are also 1-5 SU in their last six trips to Phoenix.
The Suns are now 11-5 SU in their last 16 games. They are just 1-4 ATS in their last five and have failed to cover in three straight. Phoenix is 23-20-1 ATS at home this season.
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