The No. 4 Phoenix Suns will travel for Game 1 against the No. 1 Denver Nuggets to start their Western Conference semifinal playoff series at Ball Arena on Saturday. Despite the fact the the Nuggets were the Western Conference’s top seed for much of the 2022-23 season, Phoenix enters as favorite to win the overall series at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Suns vs. Nuggets predictions
Odds to win series: Suns -140, Nuggets +120
Regular season record: Nuggets 53-29, Suns 45-37
Head-to-head record: Tied 2-2
These teams split four meetings during the regular season. Denver won the first two games, while Phoenix took the back two. Despite four games against each other, we have yet to see what the matchup looks like with both sides at full strength. Kevin Durant was still a member of the Brooklyn Nets when the Nuggets and Suns first met in 2022-23, and reigning two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic missed the last two meetings. Admittedly, this series is tough to get a true feel for.
Pick: Nuggets in 7 games
I believe this series has the potential to be the most entertaining of the postseason, and when you consider the already turbulent first round, that is truly saying something. Both Denver and Phoenix had expeditious opening playoff series this year, eliminating their respective opponents in five games. With that said, both sides will need to be ready for a much more formidable foe in the conference semis.
It will be interesting to see how Durant and fellow seven-footer Deandre Ayton protect the paint against Jokic, who seemingly has a bottomless offensive bag. On the perimeter, we know Chris Paul and Devin Booker will look to push the pace, but with Denver now at full strength, who will hold the edge? For me, I lean toward the homecourt advantage in the Mile High. Naturally, it can be tough for opposing teams to adjust to the altitude of 5,280 feet. Over the 2022-23 season, the Nuggets were 34-7 in their own building. Because of that, along with more familiarity throughout their roster, I am going with Denver to win this series in seven games.
At DraftKings Sportsbook, the Nuggets are early 2.5-point favorites at home against the Suns in Game 1, with the point total currently set at 225.