The Phoenix Suns avoided an emotional letdown after eliminating the defending Champion Los Angeles Lakers by winning Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals over the Denver Nuggets 122-105 Monday night. Chris Paul’s perfect fourth quarter helped the No. 2 seed in the West pull away late for the 1-0 series lead.
Let’s take a deep dive into the different wagering markets with our Nuggets vs. Suns Game 2 pick, complete with the best odds, game prediction, and analysis.
The shorthanded Nuggets, who were without Jamal Murray and Will Barton in that loss, will play their first game tonight since their star big man, Nikola Jokic, was named the league’s MVP. The 7’0” Jokic had 22 points, nine rebounds, and three assists in Game 1, despite being shut out in all three stat categories in the crucial fourth quarter. The Nuggets will likely need numbers more reminiscent of his season averages of 26.4 points per game, 10.8 rebounds per game, and 8.3 assists per game if they are going to even this best-of-seven series at 1-1.
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Nuggets vs. Suns Game 2 Odds
Game lines courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook Colorado:
|Nuggets||+5 (-110)||+170||O 223 (-112)|
|Suns||-5 (-110)||-210||U 223 (-109)|
Nuggets vs. Suns Game 2 Pick
With Murray done for the season and Barton’s availability still in question for tonight’s game, Denver’s offense has to involve Jokic almost exclusively. The smallest example is the fourth quarter of Game 1 in which he was held without a point, rebound, or assist and they watched a manageable nine point deficit at the start of the quarter finish as a 17 point loss.
Expand the sample space to the entire Playoffs thus far and the same seems to hold true. In the seven games of the Portland playoff series and regular season finale, Jokic’s stat line in wins versus losses was night and day. In the team’s four wins, Jokic had at least 36 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in each game. However, in the three losses to Portland and the Game 1 loss to Phoenix on Monday, Jokic averaged just 23.3 points per game and never topped three assists in any of the games. With a dichotomy like that, it’s not hard to believe that all four of Denver’s losses since the final game of the regular season have come by 14 or more points.
For Denver backers tonight, there is some good news. Jokic tends to respond after mediocre outings (by his standards). In these Playoffs, he responded after those lower statlined losses to average 36.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, and five assists in the subsequent games. His team bounces back well after a loss, as well, at 19-8 overall on the season and 7-3 on the road. The best part is, however, that the Nuggets only lost one road game after a loss all season by more than tonight’s spread.
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This is also a Denver team which will play with confidence tonight, knowing they were in Game 1 most of the way, trailing by just four with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter. They also have two wins to their name on this court from earlier this season, winning twice in overtime on back to back nights in late January.
Nuggets vs. Suns Betting Trends
Before Game 1, the road team in this head-to-head had won five straight meetings outright and covered four in a row. Denver had won seven of the last eight head-to-heads before Monday’s game, covering five of those and even covering tonight’s number in the lone loss during that stretch. The Nuggets have now covered seven of the last ten meetings in Phoenix and 14 of the last 20 overall against the Suns.
Many think of Denver as a dominant home team, as they have used the altitude to their great advantage at Ball Arena for several seasons now under Coach Mike Malone. However, not many bettors realize that only one team in the NBA had more road wins than the Nuggets this season and that happens to be the team they are playing tonight. Denver was 22-14 away from home in the regular season and has since picked up another two road wins in the Playoffs.
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Denver was especially effective on one day of rest this season, good for a .692 win percentage, which was even higher than their .653 regular season win percentage, the fifth best mark in the NBA. The Nuggets went 28-24 ATS in those games and allowed just 108.8 points per game. That is significantly better than their 110.1 points per game allowed, the NBA’s eighth best mark, and was far and away the least Denver allowed of any rest amount.
At the time this was written, Denver was receiving just 42 percent of the bets, while 58 percent of the money was on them. This helped drive the line down a full point from an opening line of +6 for Denver to currently +5 in many shops. With sharp bettors clearly seeing the same value we do here, let’s quickly examine some worthwhile trends for this game.
Nuggets vs. Suns Game 2 Prediction
The Nuggets have lost just five times against the spread in their last 18 games as dogs in the Playoffs. They have also covered five of their last seven games in the Conference Semis, dating back to last season. Meanwhile, Phoenix has proven to be a team that struggles to shine after a blowout. Entering the Playoffs, they had failed to cover any of their last eight games after a double digit win. In fact, they covered the opening line of tonight’s game in just one of those eight games, as well.
Look for Denver to hang in there tonight and move to 13-2 ATS in their last 15 games when trailing in a playoff series.
Our Pick: Denver +5.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook -110)