Nuggets vs. Suns Game 3 Preview and Picks
NUGGETS VS. SUNS GAME 3 PREVIEW AND PICKS — The Nuggets have won the first two games of the series on their home court but now must go to Phoenix for game three.
The Suns may be without Chris Paul, and they need to find a way to stop Nikola Jokic if they want to win this game. The game will be aired on ESPN beginning at 10 p.m. ET.
(2-0 SU in Series)
(0-2 SU in Series)
When: Friday, May 5, 2023 at 10:00 PM EST
Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ
Public Bets: Nuggets, 55%
Public Money: Nuggets, 63%
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of May 4, 2023
Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns Season Trends
The Nuggets just beat the Timberwolves four games to one in the first round of the playoffs and have not shown any signs of weakness. They earned the number one seed in the regular season and have played like the best team in the western conference thus far.
They ranked first in field goal percentage throughout the season because they took high-quality shots. They ranked in the bottom five of three-pointers attempted per game and the top five in points in the paint per game. Their strength lies in playing through Nikola Jokic and they do it well.
Jokic scored 39 points in game two and added 16 rebounds and five assists. Jamal Murray shot 20% from the field and finished with 10 points. Jokic is the ultimate playmaker and realizes when he must be the one to make the play. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope provided the spark by knocking down all four threes he shot in his 41 minutes played.
Another storyline heading into this game is Joel Embiid winning MVP and stopping Jokic’s two-year reign. Some people thought Jokic did more to earn the award, and he is probably one of those people. It may add motivation to secure an NBA Championship to prove he should have won the trophy.
Where are the Suns?
The Suns traded for Kevin Durant before the deadline, so it is hard to point out specific stats as the team drastically changed midway through the season. One thing is for sure, they have all kinds of shot makers on the floor. Devin Booker is posting 35.4 points per game in the postseason, and Kevin Durant is averaging 27.9 points per game. They are matchup problems and focal points for every opponent.
Deandre Ayton averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game during the regular season but has dipped a little bit to 15 points per game in the postseason. Chris Paul injured his left groin in Monday’s game and immediately went to the locker room. His status is up in the air for game three, and he may attempt to return based on his recovery. He is averaging 12 points and seven assists per game in the postseason and will likely get replaced by Cameron Payne.
Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns Head-To-Head
In the first two games, the games played out differently each time. In game one, Denver secured 16 offensive rebounds and had 101 field goal attempts. That was 17 more shots than Phoenix took.
The Suns shot 51.2% from the field but still lost by 18. Denver shot 43.2% from beyond the arc and knocked down 16 three-pointers. Phoenix beat them in the paint scoring 60 points to Denver’s 45 points in the paint. Denver won on the boards and shot better from three, which allowed them to beat Phoenix despite their efficient shooting.
Game two was a much different game. It was not as high scoring, and each team did not shoot efficiently. Phoenix shot 19.4% from three and 40% from the field. That is not going to get the job done against Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets outscored the Suns by 18 in the paint and shot 16 more free throws.
They got the ball to an area where they could take high-percentage shots like they have all season and converted enough to win. The Nuggets have been solid in the first two matchups but have shown that they are beatable. Now they will have to go into a hostile arena, and things may not go their way.
The O/U for this game is sitting at 225. These teams played their second game on Monday and had a decent size break in between games. The total for the second game was 184, which is well below this number.
The oddsmakers have moved the total down a few points from the first and second games, where they sat at 227.5 and 229.5, respectively. The rest should prove beneficial to them, and even without Chris Paul, both teams should come out sharp and focused, so the play is OVER 225.
The Nuggets have been near a four-point favorite in the first two games. They covered each game against the spread.
The Suns are a four-point favorite in their first home game of the series, and that is likely factoring in Chris Paul’s absence. He is day-to-day and likely will not risk reinjuring his groin by returning too soon. Even without Paul, the Suns can cover this number, but Booker and Durant must be efficient. The play is Suns -4.
Devin Booker could carry more responsibility as a playmaker with Chris Paul sidelined. He may have to bring the ball up the floor more. Durant can always be the number one scoring option, and Booker has shown his ability to score while getting his teammates shots. In game five against the Clippers, Booker dropped 47 points with 10 assists.
His assist prop is sitting at 7.5, with the over being a -135 favorite. The OVER 7.5 assists is a solid play, and his 10+ alternate assist prop at +225 may even be worth a small risk wager.
Devin Booker OVER 7.5 Assists (-135)
Evaluate Booker Assist to OVER 10 Assists (+225)