The Phoenix Suns have risen from a 0-2 hole and the series is now tied at two apiece. This one’s about to be more intense, especially with all the kerfuffle between Nikola Jokic and Suns owner Matt Ishbia.
Catch the game tomorrow at 10:00 AM, Manila time.
HOME: Denver Nuggets (2-2)
Projected starting five:
- Jamal Murray
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
- Michael Porter Jr.
- Aaron Gordon
- Nikola Jokic
The Nuggets made a valiant effort to put a stranglehold in the series in Game 4 but eventually failed as they fell, 129-124. It was the most points they have allowed since early November.
While it shouldn’t be exactly concerning, something may have to change. Note that Nikola Jokic poured in a career playoff-best 53 points in Monday’s defeat and he’s now at 36.5 points per game on the series, alongside 14.0 rebounds and 9.5 assists on 57.5% shooting. Number two man Jamal Murray, meanwhile, has had 32 and 28 points in these last two losses.
We’ll see how they can recover now that they’re back home. They should hope their threes will fall more as they finished Game 4 shooting just 7-for-22 from downtown. It would also be nice to have stronger contributions from the other three – Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The bench isn’t blameless here to as they collectively had 11 measly points.
Denver is scoring 115 PPG in the series.
AWAY: Phoenix Suns (2-2)
Projected starting five:
- Chris Paul (questionable) / Cam Payne
- Devin Booker
- Kevin Durant
- Torrey Craig
- DeAndre Ayton
The Suns came from an unusual 0-2 hole as it was two fairly one-sided defeats that also featured starting point guard Chris Paul (groin) getting injured. Fortunately for them, it’s all even now and Paul is healing nicely.
With Paul gone, Devin Booker decided it’s time to stitch together high-scoring games with all-around numbers. After nine games, he has a league-leading 36.8 PPG in the playoffs, together with 6.1 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game, highlighted by three games with 45-plus points. All that is topped off by a fantastic shooting split of 61.7%/51.5%/87%. Kevin Durant is right there with him as he is tallying 32 PPG in the series, plus a full line of 10.5 boards, 4.5 dimes, 1.0 steal, and 2.0 blocks per contest.
One key now, however, is to get the rest of the team the confidence to create offense. DeAndre Ayton is the only other Sun posting double-digit points in the series, and it’s right at the borderline at 10 PPG. Landry Shamet shot the lights out in Game 4 with 19 points, including 14 and four threes in the fourth quarter alone.
Phoenix is averaging 111 PPG in the series.
Handicap: The Nuggets (-5.5) fail to cover.
Over/Under: The total goes under 227.5.