The Phoenix Suns made sure there would be a new NBA Champion this season by knocking off the Lakers in six games. The Denver Nuggets advanced to the second-round by defeating Portland in another six-game series. The two square off in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals on Monday in the Arizona desert.
Denver won two of three regular season meetings against the NBA’s second-best team with both victories coming on the road. After a pair of dominant wins to close out the defending champs, the Suns hit the board as a 4.5-point favorite on the NBA betting line.
This NBA playoff game takes place on Monday, June 7, 2021 and will air live on TNT with tip off at 10 p.m. ET from Phoenix Suns Arena.
Denver Nuggets vs Phoenix Suns Game 1 Odds
Spread: Denver Nuggets +4.5 | Phoenix Suns -4.5
Money Line: Denver Nuggets +4.5 | Phoenix Suns -4.5
Season to Date
Most thought the Nuggets season was over when Jamal Murray went down with a season-ending injury in mid-April. Instead the club used that misfortune as a rallying cry winning four in a row and nine of 10 immediately after the loss and held on to claim the No. 3 seed in the West. While the Suns are favored in Game 1 there are a number of similarities between the teams.
Denver finished just four games behind the Suns in the conference standings and the teams have nearly identical numbers both offensively and defensively. The Nuggets won games despite the loss of Murray over the final month and without another starter Will Barton, who has been sidelined with a hamstring problem. Denver had the second-best road record in the West during the regular season going 22-14 SU and 18-18 ATS. They beat Portland twice on the road going 2-1 ATS, including a series-clinching 126-115 payout win.
Nothing the Suns do now should surprise you. Their run this season was set in motion in the Florida bubble when they were the only team to go undefeated. They didn’t make the playoffs last year but things were put in motion. They needed a veteran leader to put them over the top and he came in the form of Chris Paul, who averaged 16.4 points and 8.9 assists during the regular season.
Showing how far they advanced, Paul did little during the Lakers series after his shoulder injury yet the Suns still won the series in six games with a 30-point blowout in Game 5. They also led by as many as 29 points in Game 6 before winning 113-100. They had payouts in each of the last three games and went 4-2 ATS.
The Nuggets aren’t going to be fazed by starting this series on the road. In fact, it might actually benefit them since they’ve been one of the best clubs away from their own gym. When the teams met during the regular season Murray was available for every encounter and the Nuggets won a pair of overtime games on consecutive days in Phoenix. Close games in the series are expected and both teams did well with the Nuggets going 6-4 in games decided by three points or less.
Nikola Jokic was a big reason why the Nuggets vanquished Portland in the first round. The MVP hopeful averaged 33 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists with five 30-point games. Jokic tallied 36 in the clinching game and got help from Michael Porter Jr., who added 26, and Monte Morris. Porter picked up the scoring slack after Murray’s injury averaging 19 points during the regular season.
The health of Paul is a concern for the Suns. With CP3 hurting the team lost a pair of games to LA. He aggravated the injury later in the series and the hope is that a few days off will allow him to heal. He averaged just 9.2 points during the LA series, but his contributions were felt in other areas. Paul played aggressive defense and chipped in with nearly eight assists per game. He doesn’t need to lead the team he just needs to direct the operation on the floor.
While Devin Booker has been a scoring machine, the most important player is likely going to be DeAndre Ayton. Not only will Ayton be asked to score like he did against the Lakers averaging 22 points, he’ll be tasked with slowing down Jokic. The Joker averaged 25.7 points, 13.7 rebounds and 8.3 assists as Denver won two of three regular season meetings.
Denver Nuggets vs Phoenix Suns Game 1 Prediction
Our best bets: Denver Nuggets +4.5 and UNDER 219.5
Not to take anything away from the Suns, but the Lakers were a shell of the team that won the title. Still, knocking off the defending champs was a jolt of confidence and getting Paul some extra rest will help. The way the season series went we should expect a close game as both teams have their feeling out process. That means we’ll probably have a game with fewer points so back the UNDER.
Check out today’s NBA odds.