SUNS VS NUGGETS GAME 1 PREVIEW AND PICKS
SUNS VS NUGGETS GAME 1 PREVIEW AND PICKS – APRIL 29, 2023 — Happy Saturday basketball fans. Welcome back to our playoff coverage here at Godzilla Wins. Our marquee (and only) game on Saturday features the No. 4 seed Phoenix Suns taking on the top-seeded Denver Nuggets.
The postseason has proven that anything is possible. For example, three higher-seeded teams have been bounced from the first round. The New York Knicks knocked off the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies in six games. And this is a team that started the season with 10 losses in its first 12 games.
Let’s also not forget about Miami Heat – a team that needed a win in the play-in tournament just to make it to the postseason – defeated the Milwaukee Buck in five games. Yes, the same Bucks team that finished with the best record in the association. This proves that anything can happen on a given day.
So, with that sentiment in mind, we will dive into this Suns-Nuggets matchup to see which team has the edge going into the series opener.
(4-1 SU in postseason, 43-38-1 ATS)
(4-1 SU in postseason, 44-37-1 ATS)
*Odds courtesy of DraftKings, 4/29
When: Saturday, April 29, 2023 at 8:30 PM ET
Where: Ball Arena, Denver CO
Public Bets: Denver, 62%
Public Money: Denver, 96%
How We Got Here
The Phoenix Suns became one of the odds-on favorites to win it all when they acquired Kevin Durant in a midseason trade with the Brooklyn Nets. Although injuries limited Durant to just eight games with the Suns, the team posted a perfect 8-0 record with Durant in the lineup. Additionally, they finished the regular season with seven victories in their final 10 contests.
However, the Suns were hit with a dose of reality in their first-round matchup against the LA Clippers. Los Angeles stole home-court advantage with a 115-110 in Game 1 behind 38 points from Kawhi Leonard.
That loss must have given the Suns a new focus because they went on to win each of the next four contests to close out the series in five games. To be objective, it should be mentioned that Paul George was sidelined with a knee injury for the entire series, and Kawhi Leonard missed the last three games of the series with what was later diagnosed as a meniscus tear. The series could have had a different outcome if George and Leonard were in the rotation.
On the flip side of this matchup, the Nuggets finished the regular season with a bit of a thud. Sure, they produced six wins over their last 10 games. But they dropped five of their final seven games. Not the kind of momentum a team needs going into the postseason.
Denver’s first-round opponent was the No. 8 seed Minnesota Timberwolves. The Nuggets won the first three games of the series before Minnesota managed to produce an overtime win in Game 4. Although Minnesota did not go away quietly in the series finale, the Nuggets closed out the series in five games. Denver won all its home games against Minnesota and they will be looking to continue that trend against Phoenix.
Here are my picks for Game 1
The Over/Under total opened at 226.5 points. The line has not moved at the time of this writing. The Over is attracting 88 percent of the cash and 91 percent of the tickets (subject to change).
During the postseason both teams rank in the top 10 in scoring offense. The Suns are ranked 2nd, scoring 122 points in their five-game set against the Clippers. Denver is ranked 9th with 114.2 points per contest, giving the teams a combined scoring average of 236.2 points per contest. Here are a few more trends that would suggest taking the OVER in this matchup.
The OVER has an 8-2-1 record for Phoenix in its last 11 road games. The OVER has an identical 8-2-1 mark when Phoenix is facing an opponent with a winning home record. Denver was 34-7 during the regular season and 3-0 in the playoffs.
The OVER has hit 18 times in the Suns’ last 27 games in which their opponent has scored more than and allowed more than 100 points in their previous outing. Denver defeated Minnesota by a 112-109 margin.
The OVER is 4-1-1 in Denver’s last six games in which they gave up more than 100 points in their previous game. Minnesota scored 109 in the series finale.
The OVER total has hit four times in Denver’s last five contests in which they have faced an opponent with a winning record. The Suns were 45-37 in the regular season.
Prediction: OVER 226.5 total points
The Nuggets opened as a consensus 3.5-point favorite. That line has not moved.
Phoenix is 6-1 against the spread in their last seven contests that were played on a Saturday.
The Suns are 5-1 ATS in the last six instances in which they allowed more than 125 points in their previous outing. They defeated the Clippers by a 136-130 margin.
Phoenix holds a 10-4-1 record over the last 15 times they have played on three days of rest. And this squad has a 5-1 record ATS in the last six games they played in Denver, which will be the venue for Games 1 and 2.
Prediction: Suns (+3.5)
Player Prop Bet
Although Kevin Durant is a two-time champion who has a pair of Finals MVP trophies on his resume, my key player to watch is Devin Booker. He currently has -120 odds of scoring over 30.5 points and -110 odds of scoring less than 30.5 points.
During the regular season, Booker averaged a career-best 27.6 points per contest. And during the first-round matchup against the Clippers, the man was simply unstoppable.
After scoring a respectable 26 points in the team’s Game 1 loss, Booker scored 30-plus points in each of the next four games.
This includes a 47-point masterpiece in the series finale.
Booker also tallied eight boards and 10 dimes. On top of that, he shot a ridiculous 19-for-27 from the field (70.4 percent) and converted four of his seven attempts from beyond the arc.
In the five-game set against the Clippers, Booker compiled averages of 37.2 points, 6.4 assists, and 5.0 rebounds on 60.2 percent shooting from the field and 46.7 from 3-point range. Simply put, the man is unstoppable.
I expect this trend to continue against the Nuggets because having KD on your roster creates easy scoring opportunities for every player on the floor.
Prediction: Devin Booker OVER 30.5 points
Devin Booker OVER 30.5 points