It was a tale of two halves in game two for the Phoenix Suns as they seemed to find some sort of success in the first three quarters before melting down late in the game. With the Nuggets roaring back, the Suns now find themselves in a 0-2 series deficit. The pain doesn’t stop there as they also witnessed star point guard Chris Paul get ruled out with a quad injury. Even without Paul, the Suns should be able to replicate their early half success in game two and control this one from the start.
Denver Nuggets vs Phoenix Suns Prediction
It’s hard to say what happened to the Suns in the fourth quarter as they seemingly abandoned their game plan that gave them the lead in the first three quarters. They relentlessly attacked the boards with Durant being more active down low, giving the Nuggets fits in the interior. That seemingly worked until Ayton rested early in the fourth and Landale checked in, seemingly giving everyone else pause in crashing down low and generating second chance opportunities.
Losing Chris Paul hurts but I believe it will not have a drastic effect on how the Suns approach game three as we may see a more spirited effort on the glass. Especially with Cam Payne being able to dice the middle of the defense as well as Chris Paul’s backup, continuing to give Devin Booker and Kevin Durant room to work with as two of the NBA’s most lethal shot makers. Durant positioned himself low in game two and will look to do the same in game three as both a scorer and a rebounder.
It’s tough to back the Suns in a full game perspective with the Nuggets running as one of the most well coached units in the league, being more than capable of closing the gap late in the contest. With that being said, I will take the Suns first half spread at no higher than -3 as I expect them to go back to their early game two game plan that brought them early success. The loss of Chris Paul is mitigated in a rebounding perspective, as well as giving the Suns a more energetic Cam Payne to fly around on the defensive end.
The Pick: Suns 1H -3
Denver Nuggets vs Phoenix Suns Betting Odds
After two convincing wins, oddsmakers have tempered their expectations of the Nuggets making it a 3-0 lead by opening them as a +5.5 underdog in game three. Bettors were quick to pounce on that number, taking the spread down to as low as +4. I would be a lot more convinced of the Nuggets pulling it off if it weren’t for them looking thoroughly outplayed throughout most of the previous game, giving me pause in backing them for the full game in this one.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 225.5. Bettors have leaned towards the under since the open, taking the number down to 225 as of writing. With an emphasis in rebounding comes limited second chance opportunities, limiting the scoring pace throughout the contest.
- Over is 11-4 in the last 15 meetings against each other in Phoenix
- Nuggets are 5-0 in the last five meetings overall
Can the Suns continue to limit the Nuggets three point shooting?
Nuggets three point shooting Vs. Suns perimeter defense
While stopping Nikola Jokic is borderline impossible, the Suns have made an effort in limiting their next best asset and that is the Nuggets three point shooting. Michael Porter Jr has been practically non-existent in this series, failing to find any sort of success from deep.
Phoenix has been a respectable perimeter unit, ranking 13th in Opponent Three Point Completion percentage by holding opponents to a lowly 35.7% from deep per TeamRankings.
That has drastically slowed down the Nuggets scoring pace, giving the Suns the ability to pad their lead. Expecting the same defensive game plan of throwing pressure at their shooters and forcing them inside, especially when Jokic is on the bench, is a key reason for my prediction of the Suns to cover the spread.
Back the Suns to cover the first half at no higher than -3 in an effort to replicate their success from earlier in the series.
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup
Phoenix Suns Starting Lineups
Denver Nuggets Injuries: N/A
Phoenix Suns Injuries: Chris Paul (O)