The daily preview muscles into the paint with NBA Playoffs tips for Game 2 in the Western Conference Semi-finals after Phoenix Suns’ convincing win over Denver Nuggets in the opener.
11:30 (AEST), Thu 10th Jun @ Phoenix Suns Arena
History: Played 192: Suns 104 V Nuggets 88
Last meeting: June 8, 2021 (Game 1): Suns 122 d Nuggets 105 at Phoenix Suns Arena
Final Thoughts: Phoenix Suns have taken the early upper hand in their Western Conference Semi-finals series against Denver Nuggets, taking a 1-0 lead into Game 2.
The Suns and Nuggets both emerged from six-game First Round series, eliminating the Lakers and Trail Blazers, respectively.
But it was ultimately a one-sided Game 1 in Phoenix, the Suns powering away to a 122-105 victory. The Nuggets led by one at halftime but were swamped in the remaining two terms.
The ageless Chris Paul (21 pts, 6 reb, 11 ast) again led the way. He was magnificent in the fourth quarter, scoring or assisting in 20 of the Suns’ 34 points. Mikal Bridges hit four three-pointers on his way to a team-high 23 points, while Devin Booker (21 pts, 8 ast) and Deandre Ayton (20 pts, 10 reb) made typically impressive contributions.
The Suns shot 54.1 percent from the floor (64 percent in the second half) to the Nuggets’ 46.7. But the defensive job they did on Denver – a feature of the series upset of the Lakers – was key.
NBA MVP Nikola Jokic was restricted to 22 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists. The in-form Michael Porter Jr’s contribution (15 pts, 7 reb) was also comparatively modest. The back-court struggled, with Monte Morris – who was excellent against the Blazers – had almost no impact off the bench, shooting 1 from 10 from the floor.
But if Jokic can’t dominate, this series could slip away from the Nuggets very quickly. They don’t have anyone else that can match Chris Paul’s savvy influence, while Booker could catch fire at any time.
Phoenix are 6-point favourites after giving away 4.5 points in Game 1. Expect a closer context this time around but the Suns look set to take a two-game lead to Denver.