When the second-round series between the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets tipped off, the former entered as relatively decided favorites. Sure, the Nuggets finished with the Western Conference's best record. But the Suns have more star power in Kevin Durant and Devin Booker and Chris Paul. That's supposed to be the difference.
Thus far, it hasn't been. The Suns enter Game 3 trailing the Nuggets 2-0 in the series, leaving them one loss away from an absolute disaster. Can Phoenix skirt a crummy fate as they return home? We'll tell you in a minute. But first, here are all the necessary details for the next game:
- What: Suns vs. Nuggets Game 1
- Date: Friday, May 5
- Time: 10 p.m. EST
- Where: Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona
- Series Score: Denver leads Phoenix 2-0
The Suns are working off two potentially telltale losses at the hands of the Nuggets. In Game 1, after playing Denver close for roughly one quarter, Phoenix had their doors blown off. Then, after leading for much of Game 2, they squandered an eight-point lead following an injury to Chris Paul. The Suns' point guard did not return to action on Monday night with what was deemed a strained groin. At this writing, his status for Game 3 is unknown. But as the latest betting odds on the 2023 playoffs show, linemakers don't expect Phoenix to fall behind 3-0:
Please remember to double-check these NBA online betting odds right up until you have actually submitted your wager. Our Suns vs. Nuggets betting odds are accurate as of Monday, May 1. This gives linemakers plenty of opportunities to implement changes prior to opening tip-off on Friday, May 5, at 10 p.m. EST.
Truth be told, this is one of those instances in which you should expect dramatic changes. The action will change significantly once Paul's status is clarified, so it's important you're working with the most up-to-date information. This won't be an issue for anyone who has signed up with the right sportsbook. And fortunately, we can help with that. All the information found in our reviews of the top online sportsbooks should allow you to suss out the best online NBA betting sites in the business and remain on top of any 11th-hour changes to these Nuggets vs. Suns betting odds.
Will Phoenix ultimately avoid tumbling into a 3-0 hole that'll double as a death knell to their postseason? Or have the first two games actually taught the Suns what it will take to beat the Nuggets? Let's find out.
The Phoenix Suns are Down, But They're Far From Out
It would be unwise to count out the Phoenix Suns at this juncture. If anything, they seem like a sleeping giant overdue for a wakeup call.
Defending the Nuggets has proven tough for them. Denver employs a lot of off-ball movement, and Phoenix doesn't stretch too many strong defenders deep. No matter who the Suns throw at Nikola Jokic, they're never winning that matchup.
Still, Phoenix showed it could put adequate pressure on Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., who both struggled in Game 2. We also expect the Suns to throw way more double-teams at Jokic in Game 3. They tried playing him straight-up with Deandre Ayton for much of Game 2, and though Jokic didn't have his most efficient outing, he was able to carve them up in single coverage.
There's also room to grow for the Suns on offense. Everyone missed a bunch of wide-open looks in Game 2—including Kevin Durant, who was an uncharacteristic 2-of-12 from downtown. There's no way he's that bad again. And while there are no moral victories in the playoffs, the Suns deserve credit for juicing up their three-point volume after barely attempting any in Game 1. That increase helps offset part of the scoring differential.
If nothing else, the fact that Phoenix is playing at home and due for a Kevin Durant detonation bodes well for them. We'll be floored if they find themselves in a 3-0 hole—even if they're playing shorthanded.
OSB Prediction: Phoenix Suns (-215)
How Much Should You REALLY Trust Phoenix to Pull Out a Victory in Game 3?
Picking the Suns to win Game 3 is one thing. Picking them to win it handedly is another. And yet, according to the latest NBA point spread betting odds for Suns vs. Nuggets Game 3, Phoenix is indeed expected to win relatively decidedly:
- Phoenix Suns, -5 (-110)
- Denver Nuggets +5 (-110)
This margin feels a little too steep from Phoenix's end. Chris Paul has three full days to rest up, but if he's unable to go, the Suns lose their third best ball-handler and second-best passer. Knowing how much the supporting cast has struggled, along with how much Deandre Ayton has faded in the second half of Games 1 and 2 on offense, this is a game that seems destined to come down to the final couple of possessions.
Unless you think Murray will turn in another clunker for the Nuggets, go with them to keep things close and cover the spread.
OSB Prediction: Denver Nuggets, +5.5 (-110)
Defense Took Center State in Game 2, But It Should Be Different in Game 3
After a low-scoring Game 2 in which neither team topped 100 points, linemakers are expecting both Denver and Phoenix to resume going bucket for bucket. Check out latest NBA playoff over/under betting odds for Nuggets vs. Suns Game 3 as proof:
- Over 225.5 (-110)
- Under 225.5 (-110)
There's no guarantee both the Suns and Nuggets resume getting buckets at a dramatically high clip. That's not going to deter us, though.
The Suns, in particular, have yet to go kaboom. They scored just 107 points in Game 1 before dropping 87 in Game 2. Denver's defense isn't going to hold them to sub-115 points for much longer.
Nor, for that matter, do we expect both Murray and MPJ to struggle as much as they did in Game 2. These two teams might have a better feel for each other's offenses, but on most nights, those same offenses are wired to outperform even the stingiest defenses. If we're being honest, we'd bet on at least one of Denver or Phoenix sniffing 120-plus points in Game 3.
OSB Prediction: Over 225.5 (-110)
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all of your 2023 NBA playoffs betting: