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I’m tripling down on the 4-seed Phoenix Suns (0-1) when they visit the 1-seed Denver Nuggets (1-0) for Game 2 of the 2023 NBA Western Conference Semifinals at Ball Arena for a 10 p.m. ET tip-off.
NBA 2023 WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIS BETTING BREAKDOWN: SUNS VS. NUGGETS
SUNS WILL COVER (AND PERHAPS WIN) GAME 1 VS. NUGGETS
I gave out Phoenix to win this series at -130 and bet the Suns against the spread (ATS) and to upset the Nuggets in Game 1. Well, Denver clobbered Phoenix 125-107 Saturday.
The Nuggets out-performed the Suns in two of the “four factors,” splitting the effective field goal shooting (eFG%) and losing the free-throw battle.
However, the eFG% is misleading since Denver sunk nine more 3-pointers and the Nuggets walloped the Suns in both the rebounding and turnover rate.
Nikola Jokic grabbed 12 more rebounds than Suns big Deandre Ayton alone (19-7) and Denver had seven fewer turnovers than Phoenix (16-9).
Both of the Suns’ superstars balled. Kevin Durant scored 29 points on 63.2% shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds. Devin Booker put up 27 and threw 8 dishes. But, KD turned the ball over seven times and Booker didn’t hit a 3.
Suns at Nuggets Game 2 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Game 1 obviously had a lopsided final score but it wasn’t that bad. Most of Denver’s damage was done in the 2nd quarter where the Nuggets won 37-19. Otherwise, the Suns won two of the four quarters.
The betting market isn’t overreacting to Denver’s blowout in the series opener. Suns-Nuggets Game 2 opened with Denver as -4.5 favorites and are down to -4 despite the 18-point Game 1 victory.
Phoenix needs to do minor tweaks
The Suns should be alright if they can clean up the turnovers and have a bigger effort on the glass. KD and Booker did their thing offensively and both played great defense. They combined for 5 blocks and 2 steals.
Phoenix’s turnover issues can be corrected if Chris Paul controls more of the offense. The Suns turned the ball over 2.1% less during the regular season when CP3 is on the floor, per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG).
Also, Phoenix needs to run more pick-and-roll (PnR) through Booker and Paul. The Suns ran the 5th-highest volume of PnR action through ball handlers during the regular season. Denver was 28th in PnR defensive efficiency through ball handlers.
CP3 only had one turnover in Game 1 and went 4-for-6 from 2-point range. The Suns are better off if Paul stays aggressive in the mid-range but sets up Ayton and limits Phoenix’s turnovers.
Denver’s shooting regression
Nuggets PG Jamal Murray torched the Suns in Game 1. Murray scored a game-high 34 points on 54.2% shooting (6-for-10 from behind the arc) and made a ton of contested shots.
Don’t get me wrong, Murray can do this again in Game 2. But, Murray was knocking down step-back 3s and Nuggets SF Aaron Gordon and SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were 6-for-12 from 3 as well.
Suns-Nuggets Game 1 would’ve played out differently if Denver missed a couple of those tough looks. The Nuggets had the 2nd-lowest wide-open 3-point-attempt rate in the NBA during the regular season.
I’m literally betting Denver’s role players won’t knock down as many contested 3-pointers and/or Phoenix will do a better job defending Murray.
BET: Phoenix +4 (-110) in Game 2, down to +3.5
- Prediction: Suns 116, Nuggets 110
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