The so-called “feel-out” Game 1 was one-sided in favour of the Denver Nuggets as they eased past the Phoenix Suns, 125-107. Can Kevin Durant and company turn it on this time?
Catch the game tomorrow, May 2, at 10:00 AM, Manila time.
HOME: Denver Nuggets (1-0)
Projected starting five:
- Jamal Murray
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
- Michael Porter Jr.
- Aaron Gordon
- Nikola Jokic
This was a rematch that the Nuggets are probably itching for ever since they got swept by Phoenix in 2021, and their hunger didn’t disappoint. They led by as much as 25 in Game 1, and the 18-point deficit in the final score was the Suns’ worst loss since acquiring Kevin Durant.
Hustle also played a huge part as Denver was +8 in offensive rebounds and the 14 steals were more than what the Suns had on steals and blocks combined. Such numbers is inspiring on defense, so look for the Nuggets to have that same intensity.
As per usual, Denver rolled the Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray show on offense. The former posted 24 points, 19 rebounds, and five assists, while the latter finished scored a game-high 34 (20 in the 2nd half) alongside nine dimes and six threes. It generated momentum for the duo and it should be exciting to watch how it can help them moving forward.
Aaron Gordon, meanwhile, swapped roles with Michael Porter Jr. as the third scorer, chipping in 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting. MPJ may take that mantle back for tomorrow.
The Nuggets are averaging 116.0 in the 2023 playoffs. They are 5-1 ATS in their last six games at home.
AWAY: Phoenix Suns (0-1)
Projected starting five:
- Chris Paul
- Devin Booker
- Kevin Durant
- Torrey Craig
- DeAndre Ayton
The easy way to describe the Suns’ Game 1 was they got punched in the mouth. It simply looked like no one on the team was particularly ready for what the Nuggets had in store. They gave up way too many second chances (16 off rebs), only had seven threes as a team, and watched Jamal Murray prance his way into dropping a 30-piece. Maybe they thought they’re still against Russell Westbrook and the LA Clippers’ collection of wings?
The team’s two scorers did their best to keep it within distance, with Kevin Durant going 12-for-19 from the floor for 29 points and Devin Booker adding 27 on 10-for-18 shooting. However, they also combined for 10 turnovers, only one three-point field goal, and were -20 and -18, respectively. It didn’t help that DeAndre Ayton was a -21 and Chris Paul only tallied 11 points and five assists en route to earning a -12 plus-minus.
Simply put, the entire Suns team has to be way, way better than their Game 1 version. The Nuggets do not have big names outside of Jokic, but they’re entire offense as a whole is unforgiving.
Handicap: I expect the Suns (+4.5) to have more feel for the Nuggets. They’ll be better and the worst case for Game 2 is they don’t allow Denver to cover.
Over/Under: The total hits the over (227).