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Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns
NBA: Saturday, January 12, 2019, Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona, 9:00 PM ET
The Denver Nuggets are keen to keep their No. 1 seed for as long as they can, so beating the Phoenix Suns is a must even on the road. This will be the third head-to-head duel of the season between these two foes and the Nuggets lead the series including a 122-118 victory in Arizona on December 29, 2018.
Healthy Nuggets will be bad dudes
The Denver Nuggets are having serious injury problems all season long and are still missing Will Barton (hip) and Isaiah Thomas (hip), while rookie Michael Porter (back) is still waiting on his debut. However, Paul Millsap is back on the floor and Gary Harris is close after another problem, this time with his hamstring, so the Nuggets still have a lot of room for improvement when all these guys eventually get healthy and ready for action. Denver is playing very well at home this season, but there were some ups and downs on the road where the Nuggets are 3-5 straight up and 2-6 ATS in their previous eight showings including a 103-99 win at the Miami Heat.
Nikola Jokic is leading the way for the Nuggets with 19.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game, hitting 50.3% of his field goals and 32.6% of his three-point attempts. Over his last five appearances, Jokic is tallying 27.4 points, 12.6 rebounds, and 8.2 dimes per game. Jamal Murray is averaging 18.4 points and 5.0 assists per contest on 42.5% shooting from the field, while Paul Millsap is recording 13.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game. The Nuggets are scoring 110.5 points per game (18th in the league) on 46.4% shooting from the field (12th) and 35.0% from beyond the arc (16th), allowing 105.5 points in a return (5th in the league) on 45.7% shooting (13th). Also, the Nuggets are making 27.3 assists per contest which is the 2nd-most in the league after the Warriors.
Looking to buy some lottery picks
The Phoenix Suns are miles away from a serious playoff challenge, and the best plan is to continue with losing games on regular basis and get another high draft pick. The Suns are the 2nd-worst team in the league at the moment with just Cleveland behind them, so beating the Nuggets is not a part of the plan. However, the Suns have made a few upsets this season including a 111-103 win at the Boston Celtics to get a ride on a four-game winning streak at the time. Since then, it’s been a rough ride for the Suns that will probably continue with a lot of young guys among their roster.
Devin Booker is leading the way for the Suns with 24.8 points and 6.9 assists per game, spending much time at PG which has improved his offensive arsenal. T.J. Warren is enjoying a wonderful season, tallying 18.7 points on 49.4% shooting from the field and 43.3% from beyond the arc, while Deandre Ayton is averaging 16.5 points and 10.6 rebounds in his rookie season. The Suns are scoring 106.2 points per game (26th in the league) on 46.1% shooting from the field (15th) and 34.1% from beyond the arc (26th), conceding 114.7 points in a return (25th) on 48.3% shooting (29th).
- 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in the last seven games at home
- 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS in the last five home meetings with Denver
- 1-9 SU and 3-7 ATS in the last ten meetings with the Northwest Division
- 5-3 SU and 4-4 ATS in the last eight road games versus the Western Conference
- 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS in the last six road games as favorites
- 10-1 SU and 8-2-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings with Phoenix
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Nuggets failed to cover last time in Phoenix, escaping with a 4-point margin victory as 4.5-point favorites. They had a 12-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter, allowing the Suns to get close down the stretch, so the Nuggets should be careful on this one. Jamal Murray had a tremendous night in Arizona with whopping 46 points, while Deandre Ayton led the Nuggets with 33 points on 16-of-20 shooting from the field. I expect to see a similar scenario here, but with the Nuggets as more comfortable winners.
Prediction: Denver Nuggets -8.5 (-110)
Full-Game Total Pick
We saw a bunch of points in the previous clash between these two teams, while the Nuggets’ defense has been struggling lately, allowing 113.3 points per contest over their last ten outings (20th in the league). On the other side, the Suns are conceding 119.0 points over their previous ten showings, so we should get another high-scoring affair here with the Suns knowing they can score against the Nuggets.
Prediction: Over 218.0 points (-110)
Full-Game Prop Bet
In four consecutive trips to Arizona, the Nuggets have scored at least 120 points. In six of their last seven home games, the Suns have allowed at least 118 points to their opponents, while the Nuggets have surpassed a 113-point line in five of their previous seven games overall. Considering the Suns’ poor defense and the Nuggets’ good offensive execution this season, I will go with the visitors in the over on their total points.
Prediction: Denver Nuggets over 113.5 points (-110)
Half-Time Side Pick
In both their meetings with the Suns this season, the Nuggets had a double-digit lead at halftime. Likewise, the Suns were leading at halftime just once in their last eight games on the home court, while the Nuggets were trailing at halftime in five of their last six games on the road, leading only at the Phoenix Suns. Hereof, I’ll take the Nuggets to replicate their performance from the previous H2H matchup in Phoenix and cover the spread at halftime.
Prediction: Denver Nuggets -5.0 (-110)