The Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets are both expected to contend for the Western Conference championship this season. On Sunday, they will play against one another in Phoenix, as the Suns look to extend their winning streak while the Nuggets look to start one of their own. But it could be injuries that decide the outcome of this Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns matchup, as the Nuggets are dealing with some serious health concerns.
Of course, these two teams played one another in the second round of last year’s Western Conference playoffs. The Suns won that series in four games, with the Nuggets really suffering from the loss of Jamal Murray earlier in the season. Here, the Suns look to take advantage of Murray’s absence once again, along with the potential absence of the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player.
Denver Nuggets – Lost Three Straight
The Denver Nuggets have lost three straight games coming into this matchup with the Phoenix Suns. Injuries have played a huge role in their recent slide, which has dropped them to 9-7 and fifth place in the Western Conference. Most notably, Nikola Jokic has been dealing with a wrist injury that caused him to miss their game against the Chicago Bulls, and could cause him to miss this game against the Suns as well.
Even if Jokic does play, the Suns should be able to take advantage of Jokic given his current injury status. The Suns have a true center in DeAndre Ayton who has the athleticism that Jokic lacks, even if the reigning MVP has plenty of creativity on offense to make up for what he lacks in pure athletic ability. In this game, it is worth asking if Jokic even should play or if he should be saved for a more favorable matchup where he is healthy.
Expected Line-Up: Austin Rivers, Monte Morris, Will Barton, Aaron Gordon, Jeff Green
with best odds
Phoenix Suns – 11 Straight Wins
The Phoenix Suns have won 11 straight games, and are coming off of two straight wins at home against the Dallas Mavericks. Phoenix enters this matchup with a 7-2 record at home, and they look every bit like the team that managed to win the Western Conference last season. And with most of the team being healthy at this point in the season, there is very little reason to believe that the Suns will slow down anytime soon.
For Phoenix, the greatest strength of their team is their balance, as they can win with several different players serving as their top contributor. Against the Mavericks on Friday, six players scored in double figures, including three of their bench players. DeAndre Ayton, normally a productive scorer, only scored eight points in the game, while his backup in JaVale McGee scored 14. That kind of balance should serve them well against a Nuggets team that is short on depth right now.
Expected Line-Up: Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, DeAndre Ayton
Expert Pick #1 – Suns -7.5 @ -110
The first bet to make on this game is the Suns -7.5 at -110 odds. This is a good bet to make early in the day, before any Nikola Jokic injury news is revealed. If he does play, the line shouldn’t move too much in the favor of the Nuggets. But if it is revealed that he will not play, the Suns will become a much heavier favorite ahead of the opening tip. Playing the Suns at this number is a good idea regardless, as they will earn their 12th straight win.
Expert Pick #2 – Under 209.5 @ -110
Our second bet for this matchup is the under 209.5 points market at -110 odds. With Nikola Jokic potentially missing this game, taking the under here is also a good idea. Without him, or Michael Porter Jr., the Nuggets are down multiple top scorers and should see their offensive production suffer as a result. Phoenix will score a decent amount, but not enough to single-handedly push the total over.
Expert Pick #3 – DeAndre Ayton Over 14.5 @ -110
Finally, a bet on DeAndre Ayton over 14.5 points at -110 odds is worth taking a look at in this game. This is a good matchup for Ayton regardless of whether or not Jokic plays in the game. He should get some easy looks at the rim as he can use his physicality and athleticism to score on whichever center the Nuggets use.
While the Phoenix Suns’ winning streak does have to end eventually, that is not going to happen tonight against the Denver Nuggets. Expect the Suns to come out of the gate strong here, and to ride their superior depth to a win against a Nuggets team that is just focusing on getting healthy for the rest of the campaign.