Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets Preview (1/11/23): Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds

The injury-riddled Phoenix Suns (21-21) take on the dominant Denver Nuggets (27-13). Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Cameron Johnson, Cameron Payne, and Landry Shamet are all out for Phoenix – that’s six of their top seven scorers. On the other side, the Nuggets will only be missing Jeff Green.

Can the Suns shock the Nuggets after doing the same versus the Warriors yesterday? Odds, predictions, key matchups, and starting lineups are below.

Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets Betting Odds

The Nuggets are heavily favored with the spread sitting at -13.5 and a moneyline of -910. For Phoenix’s +730 moneyline to be profitable long-term, they must win this matchup at least 13% of the time. The 226 over under is on the lower end for Wednesday games.

Although recent history doesn’t matter because of injuries, it’s worth noting that the Suns are 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings. The over is 4-1 in the last five meetings too.

Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets Prediction

This current Suns roster is too much of a mixed bag offensively, so I’m taking Denver’s team total of over 120.5 points and sprinkling the 226 over.

Denver ranks 2nd in Offensive Rating, 5th in PPG, and they are firing on all cylinders recently. Over their last ten games, the Nuggets are averaging 121 PPG on an absurd 52/43/79 team shooting split. In addition to bullying opponents down low for easy opportunities, Nikola Jokic is raising his teammate’s shot quality to the highest degree in the NBA. Per ShotQuality, the Nuggets rank 1st in Adjusted Offensive ShotQuality at 1.13 SQ points per possession. Whether it’s an open catch and shoot three or cutting dunk, the pass is always perfection itself.

The Nuggets won’t meet much resistance either versus a depleted Phoenix squad that just allowed the Warriors to score 127 ShotQuality points last night. Bismack Biyombo is a solid backup center, but he’s completely out of his depth against the two-time MVP. Jokic will shred Biyombo in the post, and he should produce plenty of put-backs. Meanwhile, Dario Saric doesn’t possess the athleticism or defensive instincts to neutralize Aaron Gordon’s cutting and vertical play.

Bridges remains an elite defender and may be able to neutralize Porter Jr’s three-point opportunities, but the same cannot be said of Washington Jr and Craig. Look for Murray and Caldwell-Pope to rain threes on the Suns through Jokic setting them up. Denver also brings the hyper-efficient Bruce Brown and microwave scorer Bones Hyland off the bench, and they will be fresh against Phoenix’s short rotation.

Rest and location are also key factors here too. Phoenix’s starting lineup outside of Bridges is not used to playing 30+ minutes, and Bridges played 40 minutes himself last night. After a long game and subsequent flight to Denver, the Suns players are facing a back-to-back in Denver’s endurance-sapping high altitude after playing more minutes than usual. Although it may not affect their defense as much as I’m projecting, it’s not something that can be ignored.

Overall, Denver’s offense likely bulldozes Phoenix without too much hassle. I’m not worried about a blowout either because the end of the Nuggets bench will still be able to score at a decent rate.

Betting Trends

  • Suns are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall
  • Under is 5-1 in Suns last 6 overall
  • Nuggets are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games overall
  • Over is 5-2 in Nuggets last 7 overall
  • Suns are 7-1 ATS in the last 8 meetings
  • Over is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings

Key Matchups

Which team will win the key matchups? Check out below for these vital battles.

Free Throws

Free throws massively boost offensive production because of their inherent value. A league average free throw shooter (78.1%) produces 1.562 expected points per possession assuming two attempts – that is the same expected outcome as a 52 3PT%! The Suns rank 30th in opponent free throw rate, so the Nuggets could receive plenty of trips to the charity stripe. If the Nuggets hoard free throws to pair with their already explosive offense, they should have no trouble hitting 121 points.

Non-Jokic Minutes

When Jokic is on the court, the Nuggets own a historic 134 Offensive Rating. However, the offense often deteriorates without him because the bench lacks playmaking and shot creation. Denver needs Hyland to be efficient with his attempts and Brown to facilitate more than usual. If the Nuggets field even an average offense during the non-Jokic minutes, then 121 points is more than likely to occur.

Phoenix Suns Starting Lineup

PG: Duane Washington Jr
SG: Torrey Craig
SF: Mikal Bridges
PF: Dario Saric
C: Bismack Biyombo

Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup

PG: Jamal Murray
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Michael Porter Jr
PF: Aaron Gordon
C: Nikola Jokic

Key Injuries

Phoenix Suns Injuries: Devin Booker (O), Chris Paul (O), Deandre Ayton (O), Cameron Johnson (O), Cameron Payne (O), Landry Shamet (O), Jae Crowder (O)

Denver Nuggets Injuries: Bruce Brown (P), Bones Hyland (P), Jeff Green (O), Zeke Nnaji (P), Peyton Watson (O), Collin Gillespie (O)

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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