The Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns start a second round series for the second time in three seasons, but the teams look slightly different.
Jamal Murray is in for Denver this time around and Kevin Durant is on the Suns. This series won’t look like the Phoenix sweep two years ago as the Nuggets enter as the No. 1 seed with home court advantage.
Can Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets get off to a hot start and hold home court in the opener?
Here are the odds for Game 1 and our best bet:
Suns vs. Nuggets odds, spread and total
Suns vs. Nuggets prediction and pick
The Suns have more high end talent, no doubt about it, but are we sure this team is ready to compete for an NBA Championship? The team lacks depth and had trouble closing out games against a Clippers team that played most of the series without Kawhi Leonard and played without a center for most of the time.
The Suns had to play Devin Booker and Kevin Durant over 40 minutes per game and Chris Paul over 38 minutes. Despite winning in five games, this was an incredibly competitive series. The Nuggets are the younger team with far more depth to hold up against the second unit of the Suns at home.
For Denver, Jokic was spectacular in the first round against Karl Anthony-Towns and Rudy Gobert and I fancy his matchup against Deandre Ayton, who admittedly contained him two years ago in the postseason. However, in the regular season and the first round, the Suns allowed 115 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor, which would be bottom 10 in the league.
That being said, Ayton is the only option for the Suns in the front court. Bismack Biyombo stands no chance to slow down Jokic off the bench, nor does Jock Landale. The Suns are going to struggle when Ayton is on the bench certainly, but I’m concerned about him holding up anyway.
Further, the Nuggets are dominant at home. The team had the third best home net rating in the league in the regular season and posted a 34-7 straight up record.
This number implies that the Suns are better, and I’m not sure that’s correct based on what we have seen in the postseason.
I’ll take the small home favorite to cover and wait to see the Suns prove they are a true title contender that can find counters past Booker and Durant.
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Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.