Game: Denver Nuggets @ Phoenix Suns
Time: 10:00 p.m.
Odds: Nuggets +3, Suns -3
The Denver Nuggets are one victory away from reaching the Western Conference finals for the second time in the past four seasons. The Phoenix Suns hope to lasso Denver’s victory celebration with a win at home in Game 6 tonight to avoid elimination.
In the series, the home team has won every game. The Suns recorded victories at home by seven and five points, compared to Denver’s victories of 118-102 in Game 5 on Tuesday and an average margin of 14.7 points for Denver’s three previous victories. The Nuggets are looking to end the home trend tonight.
Nikola Jokic of Denver has been unstoppable throughout the series, averaging 35 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 10 assists per game. In the series, he has two triple-doubles and scored a career-high 53 points in a loss to Phoenix in Game 4. In Game 5, Jokic led the Nuggets to victory after two straight losses with 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. He surpassed the great Wilt Chamberlain for the most triple-doubles by a center in postseason history with his tenth of his career. The two-time MVP claimed he doesn’t care whether he scores a lot of points or plays an all-around game that results in a triple-double. He’d rather win.
In Game 5, Denver’s Bruce Brown surprised everyone by scoring 25 points. That provided an added boost for the Nuggets. Denver needed it as Phoenix continues to rely on Devin Booker and Kevin Durant’s.
With his best performance coming in Game 3 when he matched his career playoff high of 47 points on 20-of-25 shooting, Booker is averaging 34.6 points and 7.8 assists. In Game 5, Booker scored 28 points. Durant is averaging 30.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game in the series.. In Game 5, he had 26 points and 11 rebounds.
Bookier was limping during the game on Tuesday, but Suns head coach Monty Williams downplayed the severity of the injury. Booker is listed as probable on the Suns injury report. The problem for Williams is that Durant and Booker can’t keep playing 40-plus minutes per game. With the short turnarounds in the playoffs, playing 40 minutes per night is just unsustainable.
Suns point guard Chris Paul will miss his fourth straight game due to a groin injury. Suns center Deandre Ayton is also in danger of missing Thursday’s game due to a rib injury. He is listed as probable. Ayton is also the only true center for Phoenix. The Suns do not have the size to matchup with Denver and they don’t have an answer for Jokic.
Denver’s defense will be key tonight. In the Nuggets three wins, they allowed Phoenix 107, 87, and 102 points. The Suns went for 121-plus in their two wins at home in Games 3 and 4. Denver is 8-3 SU in its last 11 games, but the Nuggets are just 1-7 SU in their last eight games on the road.
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