Michael Porter Jr. will be looking for a bounce-back performance on Friday night as the Nuggets look to climb out of a 0-2 hole against the Suns. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- The Suns visit the Nuggets on Friday for Game 3
- Phoenix currently has a 2-0 stranglehold in the series after another convincing win on Wednesday
- Get the odds, preview, injury report, and prediction below
The Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets meet in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals on Friday, with Nikola Jokic and co. desperately needing a win.
The Suns just outscored Denver by 42 points across the first two contests, with Chris Paul absolutely thriving. Phoenix’s floor general is very close to 100% after dealing with a nagging shoulder injury through most of round one against the Lakers.
The Suns have no injuries to report for Game 3. For the Nuggets, Will Barton finally returned to the lineup in Game 2 and will be available again, which gives Malone some more depth in the backcourt.
PJ Dozier (groin) remains out, while Michael Porter Jr has been playing through some clear back pain, but he’s expected to suit up nevertheless. His production will be key alongside the Joker if this team is going to have a realistic chance at getting back into this series.
Suns vs Nuggets Projected Lineups
|Chris Paul||PG||Facundo Campazzo|
|Devin Booker||SG||Austin Rivers|
|Mikal Bridges||SF||Michael Porter Jr.|
|Jae Crowder||PF||Aaron Gordon|
|Deandre Ayton||C||Nikola Jokic|
Phoenix Looking Brilliant
Monty Williams’ team has been red-hot throughout these entire playoffs and has really caused some serious problems for the Nuggets. The Suns dismantled Denver in Game 2, beating them by 25 points behind CP3’s 17 points and 15 assists.
They basically managed to defeat the Lakers without Paul at full strength. With him firing on all cylinders again, the 11-time All-Star has been having his way with the Nuggets’ defense, whether he’s finding an open shooter or pulling up in the mid-range. In fact, Paul has collected 26 dimes through the first two games. Talk about dominant.
Wednesday was truly an all-around effort. Devin Booker had a team-high 18 while the rest of the starting five enjoyed double-digit scoring nights. The Suns made it rain in Game 2, shooting a ridiculous 47% from downtown with Book and Jae Crowder each draining three long balls apiece.
Phoenix’s defense isn’t making life easy on Denver, either. Deandre Ayton has done a solid job of containing Jokic and although the Serb had 24 points, he didn’t have much help. As a whole, the Suns were relentless on the defensive end, showing great communication and effort while holding the Nuggets to a 33% clip from beyond the arc.
Unibet Sportsbook Promo for 2nd Round of NBA Playoffs Gives You $6 for Every 3-Point Shot Your Team Hits
Gut Check For Denver
Heading back to the Mile High City, Denver needs to figure it out very quickly. Phoenix absolutely deserves credit for the way they’ve been playing, but the Nuggets frankly aren’t hitting shots.
Jokic has been a one-man band in the series and with Porter Jr nursing a back issue, things are looking very grim. The former Missouri standout rose to the occasion against Portland as the complementary scorer that Denver needed in the absence of Jamal Murray, but he has struggled vs Phoenix. He had just 11 points in Game 2, and sadly, that was their second-highest scorer on the night.
While the Joker definitely needs support offensively, the Nuggets have to contain the Suns’ shooters. There have been far too many clean looks. That comes down to slowing down the highly intelligent CP3, who has been carving up opponents all year long.
While Jokic has been playing well, he hasn’t been at the same level as round one where he averaged over 30 points per game. The MVP needs to have a big night and start facilitating the ball at a more consistent level because that area of his game has lacked in the playoffs. When he’s able to do that, just like Paul, it opens up more scoring opportunities for his teammates and sets the tone offensively.
Malone absolutely ripped into his team post-game on Wednesday. The Nuggets know just how awful they played and I believe you’re going to see a bounce-back performance here. The Joker is going to show out from the tip and lead his team to a slim victory, with Porter Jr also stepping up. Take Denver on the Moneyline.
Pick: Denver Nuggets (-124)
Quinn Allen is a sports journalist, with a background and education in broadcast journalism (BCIT ’17). He writes about European Football, Basketball, and Baseball for numerous sites across the globe.