The Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets face off in Game 1 of their second-round NBA playoff series. Following a weekend of recovery and preparation, the Denver Nuggets kick off their Western Conference semifinals series against the Phoenix Suns Monday night. For the first time in Denver’s recent playoff run that began in 2019, the Nuggets will open a series on the road, with Phoenix owning the league’s second-best record during the regular season. Both teams are coming off impressive victories in the first round, with Denver closing out the Portland Trail Blazers in six games despite missing Jamal Murray, Will Barton III, and PJ Dozier. Meanwhile, Phoenix navigated around an initial injury to Chris Paul to suffocate the Los Angeles Lakers’ offense to win in six games.
Denver won the regular-season series 2-1, but it’s incredibly difficult to take much away from the three matchups, all of which took place in January. This current Nuggets squad is dramatically different in the backcourt following the trade deadline, with Facundo Campazzo and Austin Rivers playing heavy minutes, compared to Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Dozier playing extensive minutes against Phoenix throughout the regular season. Meanwhile, Michael Porter Jr. missed the first meeting between the two teams, while Devin Booker missed the final contest on Jan. 23. For more details about the match-up, check NBA’s official website.
Here’s a look at the series schedule:
- 1st Game: Nuggets at Suns, Monday, June 7, 8 p.m.
- 2nd Game: Nuggets at Suns, Wednesday, June 9, 7:30 p.m.
- 3rd Game: Suns at Nuggets, Friday, June 11, 8 p.m.
- 4th Game: Suns at Nuggets, Sunday, June 13, 6 p.m.
- Games 5 to 7, played if necessary, TBA
(2) Phoenix Suns vs. (3) Denver Nuggets
After toppling defending champions LA Lakers in six games, the Phoenix Suns will take on third seed, Denver Nuggets, in the first game of their 2020-21 NBA Western Conference semi-finals at the Phoenix Suns Arena on Monday. Devin Booker capped off an incredible first round with his highest ever points tally (47) in the playoffs, while Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder also impressed. Chris Paul fought off injury issues to end Game 6 with eight points and 12 assists to help his team past an LA Lakers team without Anthony Davis.
Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets ousted the Portland Trail Blazers in six games. MVP contender Nikola Jokic produced some of his best basketball, scoring at least 30 points in five of the six games. The Nuggets have lost Jamal Murray, but the improved form of Michael Porter Jr. and Monte Morris should stand them in good stead. Michael Porter Jr. is flourishing as the second option on offense with Murray out. The Suns play smothering defense, so Porter Jr.’s shot-creating ability will be needed even more in this series.
The Phoenix Suns’ quick start against the LA Lakers in Game 6 was something LeBron James and co. could not recover from, as Devon Booker ended up having a historic night. Ty-Shon Alexander and Abdul Nadder might both be unavailable for the first game against the Denver Nuggets. The Phoenix Suns were incredible with their 3-point shooting in Game 6 and had an overall roster efficiency of 51.4% in Game 5. Their overall shooting efficiency during the series was 50.7%, as the likes of Jae Crowder, Devon Booker and Cameron Johnson enjoyed productive nights from the 3-point zone.
Devon Booker took control of proceedings in the final two games of the series against the LA Lakers. He scored 47 points and had 11 rebounds in Game 6. That made him the first player after Charles Barkley to score 45 points and have ten rebounds in a playoff match for the Phoenix Suns. Booker led his team with an incredible streak in the first quarter in Game 6 against the Lakers and will look for a similarly impressive start against the Denver Nuggets on Monday.
Paul’s shoulder injury is still the biggest question mark for the Suns, as his impact on the floor is immeasurable. Phoenix played with a different demeanor just by Paul stepping on the floor. The Lakers left him wide open on the three-point line and he could not capitalize on the shot. Paul is a wizard in the mid-range but he even looked uncomfortable shooting the ball from there. However, he still found a way to make plays for the team. The Suns are going to need Paul to knock down shots this series. Denver is a high-scoring team and they shoot the ball well from three.
The Denver Nuggets were highly impressive with their shooting in Game 6. They shot at over 44% from the three-point zone, with Michael Porter Jr. producing six 3-pointers in the first quarter against the Trail Blazers. Monte Morris also caught fire, converting ten of his last 21 3-point attempts and scoring 50 points in his last two outings. Meanwhile, apart from Murray, PJ Dozier is under evaluation on a ‘day to day’ basis, while Will Barton is unlikely to play Game 1 against the Suns. Murray’s absence means Campazzo will likely start at the PG position, with Aaron Gordon not at his shooting best in the first round.
Nikola Jokic was immense for the Denver Nuggets against the Trail Blazers. He averaged 33 points and was virtually ubiquitous in the Denver Nuggets’ offence. Jokic also made his presence felt at the defensive end, playing more than 46 minutes in Game 5. He found ample support in most of the matches and was highly efficient for long spells. Jokic came good when his team needed him the most, but he’ll need to dig deep against the Phoenix Suns, who just cruised past the defending champions. Nevertheless, the Nuggets will need someone else to step up. We believe Aaron Gordon needs to be that guy.
The Nuggets acquired Gordon because he brings something different to the team defensively. He is comfortable defending multiple positions, and he put that on full display against the Blazers. He spent time defending Carmelo Anthony, Lillard and McCollum. Gordon is 6’9″ but he is more athletic than all of the Nuggets guards. Booker likes to play in the post, so with the Nuggets having smaller guards, Gordon should see a heavy dose of Booker this series.
The Denver Nuggets will again be relying on Nikola Jokic, who was hugely impressive in the first round. In Michael Porter Jr. and Monte Morris, they also have two in-form offensive players. They might again be required to deliver the goods against the Phoenix Suns. Meanwhile. the Suns have some injury concerns, but Devon Booker’s performances and the improvement in form of a few role players means they will start off as the marginal favorites. Chris Paul could get some rest if he is not fit for the 1st game. However, the Suns will need him in order to win the series. Regardless of what happens, it won’t be a surprise if this match-up goes the distance.
On paper, these are the two most evenly matched teams in the second round. The Suns have the better backcourt and play better team defense. Paul and Booker are both great late in games, so if these games go down to the wire they will have the advantage. Jokic will put up MVP numbers but the Phoenix role players will outperform the Nuggets’ role players and that will be the difference in the series. We believe Phoenix will go to the finals of the Conference but not before seven matches are played.
Making a prediction on the series is one thing but betting on the actual games is something else. We know both teams are great in offense but defense will decide every game in the series. Both the Suns and the Nuggets have high percentages when it comes to shooting threes. However, defensively, both sides could do better. Because of this, we believe that every game will be close. Wins will be decided in the last minutes which makes things perfect for betting. For this match-up, we believe the Handicap markets offer more value than any other bet. Check our NBA Playoffs 2021 article for our full playoff predictions.
Basketball Betting & NBA Markets/Odds
Now that we have made our prediction on this second round match-up, it’s time to talk about basketball betting. First, it’s crucial to find a great bookmaker that offers various NBA markets with competitive odds. We suggest visiting, the Coinbet24 Bitcoin Sportsbook for the best odds and markets when it comes to NBA betting.
Additionally, visit the Coinbet24 blog to learn more about basketball, the NBA, and basketball betting. Once the first round is done, make sure to check with us again about more predictions. We will cover all the games in the Playoffs, until one of the 16 teams is crowned NBA Champion.