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Trends Point to OVER from Nuggets, Suns in Game 2

Denver (51-28 SU, 38-41 ATS) appeared on its way to a series-opening win Monday before Phoenix (56-23, 47-30-2) stormed back to outscore the Nuggets 65-47 in the second half. Denver coaches and players seek a more complete effort tonight as the Nuggets try to draw even in the Western Conference semifinal.

Denver Nuggets vs Phoenix Suns
  • Date/Time: June 9, 9:30 p.m. ET
  • Arena: Phoenix Suns Arena
  • TV Coverage: TNT
  • Opening Odds: Suns -6 | O/U 221.5 (Line History)
  • Nuggets vs Suns Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

The opening spread and total are virtually identical to the line in Game 1, when the Suns were 6-point favorites and the OVER/UNDER was 222.5. Prior to Monday’s loss, the Nuggets were 6-5 SU and 8-2-1 ATS in their previous 11 games as underdogs of 6 or more points.

Denver News & Notes

Coach Michael Malone lit a fire under his team in Round 1 when he called them “soft,” and he might be looking for a similar reaction following Denver’s Game 1 loss to the Suns. Malone questioned his team’s focus and physicality in the second half, when Phoenix outscored the Nuggets 59-33 in the final 20 minutes to rally for a convincing victory.

“We had way too many breakdowns … we gave up eight and-1s tonight. I think (we) had a soft mentality,” Malone told ESPN. The last time Malone played the “soft” card, Denver exploded for 38 first-quarter points against the Blazers, setting the early tone in a Game 5 victory that swung the series in Denver’s favor.

Although Nikola Jokic was named NBA MVP on Tuesday, Denver’s star center may have been a target of Malone’s criticism after failing to score a point, secure a rebound or dish out an assist in the fourth quarter of Game 1.

Michael Porter Jr. also wasn’t very effective in the second half, scoring just three points after tallying 12 in the first, but he may have been hampered by a back injury. Porter, who wore an ice wrap on his back at halftime, is expected to play in Game 2.

Phoenix News & Notes

Judging by Chris Paul’s fourth-quarter performance on Monday, the shoulder injury that plagued him in Round 1 might be a thing of the past. The point guard was brilliant down the stretch in the series opener against the Nuggets, hitting all six of his field-goal attempts in the fourth to finish with 21 points.

Phoenix’s other two offensive cornerstones so far in these playoffs — Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton — continued to deliver with 21 and 20 points, respectively. However, the biggest catalyst in the Suns’ comeback might have been Mikal Bridges, who set a playoff career high with 23 points in 34 minutes.

“His back-side defense was pretty good tonight,” coach Monty Williams told the Arizona Republic. “I just thought he had really good balance.”

Phoenix’s 122 points marked the team’s best offensive performance of the playoffs, but the Suns have also been getting things done at the defensive end. Phoenix has yet to allow more than 109 points in a game in the postseason, yielding 105 or less in five of its seven outings.

Betting Pick: OVER 221.5

Denver has gone OVER in six of its seven playoff games so far and hasn’t held an opponent under 115 points in nearly a month.

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Shark Bites
  • Denver is 16-4 SU in its last 20 games against Phoenix.
  • Phoenix is 17-2 SU in its last 19 games at home.
  • The total has gone OVER in 6 of the last 7 meetings.