|Moneyline||+104 / -124|
|Time||Friday, 10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday and via DraftKings|
The Suns have dominated the start of this series as they took care of business at home. They won the first two games by a combined total of 245-203.
The Nuggets will look to right the ship as they return to Denver and grab the first of a pair of home games to avoid going down 0-3. Let’s break down the matchup.
Suns’ Hot Offense Should Continue
The Suns look incredible. They have a Net Rating of 19.4 over the last two games, and they’ve held this powerful Nuggets offense to just a 106.3 Offensive Rating, per NBA Advanced Stats. Not only are they playing well defensively, but they’re shredding this Nuggets’ defense and scoring 125.6 points per 100 possessions.
There’s reason to expect this offensive output to continue. The Suns have posted an eFG% of 59.7% over the past two games, and they’re shooting a deadly 40.3% from 3-point range. They’re also dominating on the interior, and Chris Paul looks healthy as he’s been carving up the Nuggets from mid-range with great efficiency. The Suns had a top-six offense in the league during the regular season, so it’s not surprising that they’re relentlessly attacking this hobbled Denver defense.
On the defensive side of the ball, they’ve adjusted their coverage of Nikola Jokic. The Suns are essentially forcing Jokic to work harder to run the offense. He’s run an average of 2.31 miles per game, including 1.28 miles per game on offense. He’s being picked up sooner, so it’s harder for his teammates to not only get him the ball, but for him to facilitate for his teammates. The Suns are pressing the MVP, and there’s only so much one man can do.
Nuggets Have Struggled From Behind The Arc
The Nuggets saw Will Barton return during Game 2, but now Michael Porter, Jr. has popped onto the Injury Report due to a tight lower back. He’s listed as Probable and played through his Questionable tag in Game 2, but it’s just another injury this depleted Denver team has to deal with.
The Nuggets are struggling after taking care of the Blazers. This team looked spry and able to hold their own with their rag-tag group of guards, but this Suns’ defense is exposing them for what they are: a group that’s being held up by the league’s MVP without the firepower to advance.
The Nuggets just cannot score and they do not take enough 3-point shots to give them the variance they need to keep up with this superior Phoenix Suns team. While their 3-point shooting percentage was strong during the regular season (38.3%) it’s dropped to 32.4% in this series against the Suns, per Cleaning the Glass.
There may be some room for improvement, because the Nuggets are taking 41.5% of their shots from long range, but considering some of their best 3-point shooters are either out (Jamal Murray, Monte Morris) or playing through some pain or injuries (MPJ, Will Barton), the players taking these shots are not the team’s biggest threats from 3-point range. The Nuggets’ inability to hit the 3 ball has increased the pressure and responsibility on Nikola Jokic, and the Suns have keyed in on him like we discussed before.
This series feels like it may be short lived. The Suns have taken care of good teams all year and were 17-7 during the regular season against teams with top-10 point differentials, and they’ve continued this dominance throughout the postseason.
The Nuggets are banged up, and although they’re in a must-win spot here in Game 3, I’m not entirely sure we can trust them. The Suns have come out and secured two strong victories, despite Denver leading for a large portion of Game 1.
While I think there’s value on the Suns moneyline, I don’t exactly want to bet against the MVP to steal a game at home. This Denver defense is not stopping anyone. They did not stop the Blazers, and they certainly have not stopped the Suns. So, I’m looking at the total for value. The Suns have scored fewer than 112 points just once out of five games against the Nuggets this season, and I’ll back their offense to continue shredding this Nuggets’ defense in Game 3.
Pick: Suns Team Total over 110.5
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