The Suns and Nuggets hung on to their playoff lives in round one and now have to deal with one another if they want to win a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Can the Nuggets keep proving people wrong, or will the Suns eat up the Nuggets in Game 1 of this best of seven series?
Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns
Monday, June 07, 2021 – 10:00 PM EDT at Phoenix Suns Arena
Destiny Written in the Suns
Destinies are traditionally written in the stars, but for this NBA season, they may be written in the Suns. Phoenix dispatched the current NBA champions in what could possibly be their toughest opponent before they reach the Western Conference Finals.
Now they are faced with a team that beat them in two of three meetings during the regular season, but a lot has changed for these two teams since then. Jamal Murray went down in April and he dominated this Suns team during the regular season. He had 31 points in the Nuggets’ only loss to the Suns back on New Year’s Day and in the two games in Phoenix, Murray has 18 and 26 in two overtime games that the Nuggets won.
However, while the Blazers weren’t good enough defensively to take advantage of the Nuggets sans Murray, the Suns are more than ready to shut this team down early and often.
So far in six playoff games against the Lakers, the Suns posted a 102.6 defensive rating (DRtg). If you isolate just their first half performances against LA, they had a DRtg of 94 and a net rating of +18.6 points per 100 possessions. This is where we should look for value on the NBA betting lines in this one.
The Sharp Pick
The Nuggets have been fantastic this season and postseason in first halves offensively, but their numbers are a bit misleading. They don’t play defense as well on the road in first halves and since Murray went down for good, their first half numbers suffered, especially on the road which we're taking into account for our sports betting.
For instance, after Murray went down, this Nuggets team was still deadly in first halves at home. They averaged 120.2 points per 100 possessions in their final eight home games without Murray, while posting a defensive rating just over 100. However, in their nine road games without Murray after his injury, their first half defensive rating fell to 112.5, over 12 points per 100 possessions worse than their home numbers to end the season. Their offense was still stellar in those games and they have been without Murray in the playoffs.
However, the Suns are one of the best defensive teams remaining in these playoffs and they are big and versatile enough to limit the Nuggets. I’m assuming the Suns get close, or exceed 60 first half points and are at least three points ahead of the Nuggets by half time.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.