The Denver Nuggets (2-1) look to take a commanding series lead against the Phoenix Suns (1-2) on Sunday night. Chris Paul missed Game 3 with a groin injury, and he’s also out for Game 4 as well. Can Phoenix tie the series?
Check out below for Nuggets vs. Suns predictions, odds, trends, and starting lineups.
Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns Prediction
Prediction: Nuggets Moneyline & Nuggets -4.5 Alternate Spread (+176 FD)
Although the Suns won Game 3, it wasn’t that encouraging for future success. They needed Devin Booker to score 47 points on 20/25 shooting, Kevin Durant to rack up 16 FTA, Jamal Murray to take 29 FGA, and the Nuggets to shoot 4/22 on open and wide open 3PA just for a close seven-point win.
Deandre Ayton appeared unplayable as he scored 4 points and was effectively benched late for Jock Landale. It’s understandable that he’s struggling to limit Jokic’s scoring, but Ayton’s complete inability to slow Jokic’s rebounding and put-backs is inexcusable. He’s a hyper-athletic 7’0” physical freak, so the tools are there. The problem for Ayton is a puzzling passive approach to the game and a tendency to give up on plays where he’s out of position. Therefore, Denver owns a massive offensive advantage here because they can rack up second chance points.
Meanwhile, the Suns simply don’t have the firepower to compete with the Nuggets outside of nuclear explosions like Booker’s Game 3. Only Booker, Durant, and Payne can create their own shot off the dribble, and Payne’s questionable shooting means he’s not reliable. Phoenix badly needs Chris Paul in the lineup as a tablesetter, so his absence is huge for Denver.
Finally, the chemistry difference is creating a huge shot quality gap. The Nuggets are a well-oiled machine, while the Suns are still figuring out how to play off one another. It’s leading to plenty of broken possessions and players standing around on the three-point line not knowing whether to cut or spot up. Compare that to the Nuggets, who have Aaron Gordon cutting at the perfect time with Jokic more importantly knowing Gordon’s cutting.
Overall, Denver’s offense is too efficient, too versatile, and too in sync for this broken Phoenix offense. Look for the Nuggets to convincingly take Game 4.
Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns Betting Odds
Phoenix is a slight favorite; the spread sits at -2 Suns. For Denver’s +122 moneyline to hold a positive expected value, they must win at least 46% of the time here. In other words, if this game was simulated 100 times, the Nuggets would need to win 46 of them for their moneyline to be profitable. It’s worth noting that Denver is now 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings versus Phoenix.
- Over is 18-7-2 in Suns last 27 overall
- Suns are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a ATS win
- Nuggets are 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings
- Over is 12-4 in the last 16 meetings in Phoenix
Which teams will win the game-determining matchups?
Jamal Murray Restraint
When Murray heats up in the 1st quarter, he expects his shooting to hold for the entire game. It leads to poor shot selection late in games and him playing on-ball more. He had 29 FGA in Game 3, which was ten more than the next highest. Denver is at their best when they emphasize ball movement and keep shots distributed. Although Murray has the skill to hit these shots, restraining himself and maintaining his off-ball usage would behoove the Nuggets.
Suns Supporting Cast
Booker and Durant have scored 63.8% of Phoenix’s points this series, and Ayton is the only other player who has scored 20+ total points. That’s absurd and a completely unsustainable offensive formula. Who is going to step up though? Can Okogie, Warren, Shamet, and Ross hit their threes? Can Payne have a sliver of off the dribble efficiency? If Phoenix doesn’t get other contributions, then they are in dire straits.
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup
Phoenix Suns Starting Lineups
Denver Nuggets Injuries: Collin Gillespie (O)
Phoenix Suns Injuries: Chris Paul (O)