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Suns Underdogs in Mile High City Despite Series Dominance

The Suns (57-23 SU, 48-30-2 ATS) are scalding-hot, posting four consecutive double-digit victories to move within two wins of their first conference finals appearance since 2010. Phoenix looks to extend its 5-0 SU and ATS surge when the series shifts to Denver, where the Nuggets (51-29, 38-42) have won eight of the last 10 meetings.

Phoenix Suns vs Denver Nuggets
  • Date/Time: June 11, 10 p.m. ET
  • Arena: Ball Arena
  • TV Coverage: ESPN
  • Opening Odds: Nuggets -1.5 | O/U 222.5 (Line History)
  • Suns vs Nuggets Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

It’s been six years since the Suns were favored in Denver, and that streak might not end tonight despite Phoenix’s dominance so far in this series. Oddsmakers opened the Nuggets as 1.5-point favorites to beat the Suns for the ninth time in the last 11 meetings in Colorado.

Phoenix News & Notes

Chris Paul continues to be a man on a mission in these playoffs, turning in a 15-assist, zero-turnover performance on Wednesday. Paul added 17 points, marking the third time in his career that he’s had at least 15 points, 15 assists and zero turnovers in a game. Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd are the only other players in NBA history to accomplish that feat, doing it once each.

Meanwhile, Deandre Ayton is holding his own against league MVP Nikola Jokic in the paint. Ayton is averaging 18.5 points and 10 rebounds in the series, not far off from Jokic’s averages of 23 and 11. Ayton is also finding a way to hold Jokic down without fouling, going the final three quarters of Game 2 without being whistled for an infraction.

The rest of the Suns have ratcheted up their defense as well, harassing the Nuggets into 1-of-13 shooting from three-point range in the first quarter of Game 2 and limiting Denver to 42 points in the opening half.

“It was one of our better defensive halves of the year,” coach Monty Williams told ESPN. “We were relentless with our effort, our communication and coverages.”

Denver News & Notes

The Nuggets have overcome a lot to get to this point without Jamal Murray but coach Michael Malone isn’t giving his team any free passes for its poor performance in this series. After not getting the desired response from calling his team “soft” following a 122-105 loss in Game 1, Malone was even more blunt with his assessment of Wednesday’s contest.

“I felt we quit tonight, which is something you never want to see,” Malone told ESPN. “This was an embarrassing performance … For Game 3, I’m just going to try to find guys that will at least go out there and leave it all on the line.”

Not many of the Nuggets players were happy campers after the blowout defeat, either. Guard Will Barton, who returned to the lineup after missing nearly six weeks with a hamstring injury, admitted to reporters that words were exchanged behind closed doors. “Some things were definitely said,” he told ESPN. “Some things that needed to be said.”

Jokic was the only Nugget to score more than 11 points Wednesday, collecting 24 points and 13 rebounds in 29 minutes of action. Michael Porter Jr., dealing with a sore back, missed 10 of his 13 shots from the field after scoring just three points in the second half of Game 1.

Betting Pick: Suns +1.5

Even if Denver brings a more determined effort, the short-handed Nuggets don’t have enough talent to slow down the surging Suns.

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Shark Bites
  • Phoenix is 5-0 SU and ATS in its last 5 games.
  • The total has gone OVER in 7 of Denver’s last 9 games.
  • Phoenix is 2-8 SU in its last 10 road games vs Denver.