Why the Denver Nuggets have a real chance to beat the Phoenix Suns

Jun 1, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (1) reacts to his three point basket in a double overtime period during game against the Portland Trail Blazers five in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

We discussed the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns series on Friday’s installment of the Denver Sports Betting show. Catch the DSB show Monday-Friday from 3-4p on Mile High Sports Radio 98.1 FM or stream live anytime at milehighsports.com. 

The Denver Nuggets managed to take care of business in six games against the Portland Trail Blazers in their first-round matchup of the NBA Playoffs. Denver is now lined up to face the Phoenix Suns in the second round of the postseason, and the series promises to be action-packed.

The Suns are fresh off a six-game series victory of their own, besting the Los Angeles Lakers to send the defending champions packing, which came to the surprise of many national pundits.

Both Denver and Phoenix put together splendid efforts against their respective opponents and now will clash with a spot in the Western Conference Finals on the line.

Phoenix put together a sensational regular season, winning 51 games and finishing as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, just a few games ahead of Denver. Led by the duo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker, the Suns have been one of the best teams in the NBA this season, and their first-round series victory is only confirmation of that. It’s not easy to beat LeBron James in a playoff series, injuries or not, so for the Suns to be able to pull that off is undoubtedly impressive.

The series win has earned Phoenix a lot of credibility in the eyes of the public. ESPN’s panel of 16 NBA “experts” dished out their series winners for Suns-Nuggets, and Phoenix received 13 of the 16 votes. At least Tim Legler, Zach Lowe and Ohm Youngmisuk have their heads on straight.

Yes, the Suns are solid. Yes, they are fresh off an impressive series win, but the way they are being propped up nationally is laughable and the start of what will probably be a rude awakening.

The Suns are the -210 favorite to win the series, according to the good people over at SuperBook Colorado. Denver is the +180 dog following their series victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

What Denver did was remarkable, yet the Nuggets are still the considerable underdog for the series, and the price is reflective of a team with an outside chance to pull off the upset. Whether you are a gambler or not, series odds are a great way to gauge how the general public feels about a given matchup.

Naturally, we are going to be biased to a degree when talking about the Nuggets, but I can objectively say Denver has been disrespected from a public and betting perspective all season along, which is actually absurd considering the league MVP is on their roster. This was prevalent against Portland.

I have no idea why things keep going this way, but if they are going to dangle + money in front of me like this ahead of a series that I think Denver absolutely has a real chance to win, I’m all over it. There was tremendous value betting the Nuggets against Portland, and I expect that same value to be there against Phoenix.

Betting aside, how do people continue to sleep on Nikola Jokic? The man has never been bounced in the first round and has improved in the playoffs year after year. Maybe people are down on the Nuggets because role players like Austin Rivers, Facundo Campazzo and Markus Howard have been better than average, and perhaps they will come back down to earth this series, but at the same token, Denver is expecting Will Barton to return from injury, which would be a massive boost across the board.

Did we forget to mention Chris Paul just might be the top choke artist in NBA playoff history?

No disrespect. It’s just a fact. The man is the NBA’s Tony Romo. We are going to chalk up a team that is in the midst of their first real playoff run as the 2/1 favorite in the series against the league MVP?

Outside of Paul, the Suns lack considerable playoff experience, and most of Paul’s history in the playoffs has been on the losing side of things. On the flip, the Nuggets are battle-tested and are the more resilient team.

The Suns are a solid squad. They finished with a better record than the Nuggets in the regular season, but Denver holds a 2-1 regular season advantage in head-to-head matchups, and Denver is 17-5 straight up against the Suns since the 2015-2016 season.

Let’s see how it shakes out.