Fans of monster dunks, cuts to the hoop for a layup and long, arcing 3-point bombs got their money's worth in Sunday's NBA All-Star Game. The Eastern Conference's 163-155 win closed out the weekend gala in New Orleans with the most points ever seen in an all-star contest.
Why, it was enough to remind me of old matchups between the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets who once scored just two points less in a game...and they were at least trying to play defense when it happened.
Speaking of the Suns and Nuggets, they are part of Tuesday's NBA betting card as the league gets back to business following a short break. Pepsi Center in the Mile High City is the site for the 9 PM (ET) tip, with local and regional networks providing coverage. A couple of injury concerns are giving sports books an excuse for not releasing a spread and total for this game yet. SBR's live NBA odds will have those numbers as soon as they come out.
The Suns have covered all three of the previous clashes, including as 4 point underdogs at Pepsi Center just before Christmas, the only matchup that failed to get 'over' the total.
We shouldn't expect anything close to the show the two teams put on a little more than 23 years ago when the Suns swamped the Nuggets 173-143 in Phoenix. Denver's Orlando Woolridge had a game-high 40, Cedrick Ceballos led the Suns with 32, one of eight Phoenix players to score in double figures. Phoenix scored a record 107 points in the first half to open a 40-point lead, the 174 points in one half is still an NBA record. That game featured 100 rebounds, 97 assists, 99 free-throw attempts, 83 assists and 52 turnovers with only two 3-pointers made, both by Denver.
Suns Stumble Into All-Star Break, Remain In Playoff Contention
The midseason vacation might have come at a perfect time for Phoenix (30-21 straight up, 33-17-1 against the spread). Jeff Hornacek's crew dropped three of four just before the break, failing to cover the spread in all three defeats, two of them as the underdog.
Even with those three failed covers, the Suns are up 14.3 units on the campaign, the best return in the Association. They are 13-12 away from home, a loss at Houston on Feb. 5 halting a 4-game road win streak.
The recent slide has Phoenix in a dogfight with Dallas, Golden State and Memphis for the 7-8 seeds in the Western Conference, that foursome separated by just two games. The good news is the Suns are expecting to get point guard Eric Bledsoe back soon. The fourth-year guard out of Kentucky has been out since the end of December due to knee surgery, and could return within a week.
Nuggets Back Home Following Tough Road Trip
Denver (24-27 SU, 22-28-1 ATS) reached the All-Star Game in a slump, losing all four games on a road trip that took the Nuggets through New York, Detroit, Indiana and Minnesota. Brian Shaw's squad failed to cover any of the defeats which were by an average of 27+ points.
The Nuggets have been dealing with injuries all season, starting with forward Danilo Gallinari who was lost before the team ever took the floor due to a bum knee. Now Denver is missing leading scorer Ty Lawson who suffered a fractured rib in last week's setback against the Pistons. There is no timetable for Lawson's return, and Shaw is having to turn to Andre Miller and Randy Foye, along with others, at point in his absence.
Lawson's iffy availability is holding up the lines, and that sorta' sucks the air out of making a free pick on the side. All three meetings this season have seen totals of 200+, and I'm inclined to think the low side of the scoreboard hurdle if this game follows suit.
My pick: Lean Under