Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns Preview and Pick

Denver Nuggets +3.5 (45-25) at Phoenix Suns -3.5 (38-31) O/U 237 10 PM ET Monday March 23, 2009
by Jason of

Tonight the Denver Nuggets head to the desert to take on the streaking Phoenix Suns. This game is important for both teams, but more important for the Suns, as they are still 3.5 games behind the 8th place Dallas Mavericks for the last Western Conference playoff spot. The Nuggets are currently in 4th place in the West, but they only trail the 2nd place Rockets by 1 game and lead the 5th place New Orleans Hornets by game. If the Nuggets finish the season strong they can host a playoff series, maybe even two, but if they falter they will hit the road for the first round. The Suns have won 4 in a row and the Nuggets have won 5 in a row. The Suns are in desperation mode, as every game is, pretty much, a playoff game for them.

This season the Suns are 22-13 at home and the Nuggets are 18-17 on the road.

Hoops bookies have the Suns as 3.5-point favorites with a total of 237. The Suns are posted at -145 as home favorites and the Nuggets are posted at +125 as road dogs.

The Suns come into this game after crushing the Washington Wizards 128-96 on Saturday night. The high scorer for the Suns in that game was Jason Richardson going for 35 points on 13/18 shooting. For the game the Suns were en fuego, to say the least, as they shot 51/92 from the floor for a FG% of 55.4%. On D the Suns actually played some, holding the Wizards to 38/95 for a FG% of 40%.

The Nuggets beat up on the Wizards, who doesn’t this year, the night before 116-105. The high scorer for the Nuggets in that game was J.R. Smith putting up 40 points on 15/23 shooting. For the game the Nuggets shot well going 44/83 for a FG% of 53%. On D the Nuggets allowed the Wizards to shoot 37/81 for a FG% of 45.7%.

The Suns have reverted back to their old ways after firing head coach Terry Porter, as they are now the highest scoring team in the league (108.7 ppg) and the Nuggets rank 6th (103.3 ppg). On D the Nuggets rank 17th (100.3 ppg) and the Suns rank 27th (106.4 ppg), which is the main reason that they are currently not in the playoff picture. Both of these teams are pretty even on the glass, as the Nuggets have a rebounding differential of +0.9 rpg and the Suns are at +0.8 rpg.

This season betting on the Suns is not a winning proposition, as they are only 28-39-2 ATS, while the Nuggets are legit at 37-31-1. In terms on Over/Under games this season the Suns are 39-29-1 and the Nuggets are 37-32-1.

On the injury front SF Renaldo Balkman and PF Kenton Martin are day-to-day for the Nuggets and PF Amare Stoudemire and SG Leandro Barbosa are Out for the Suns.

Since Stoudamire and Barbosa are out the Suns asked Jason Richardson (17.4 ppg) to pick up the scoring slack and he responded last game going for 35 points and the Nuggets will have to keep him from having a big scoring game.

Don’t look for a lot of D in this game, but if either team plays any it will give them a huge advantage.

This game features the two best shooters in the NBA, in terms of FG%, in Shaquille O’Neal (18.1 ppg 61.21% from the floor) and Nene (14.7 ppg 60.36% from the floor). Besides Nene the Suns and Shaq also have to worry about Chris Anderson (6.3 ppg 5.9 rpg), who has stepped up his play recently averaging 6.8 ppg 8.1 rpg and 3.1 blocks in his last 13 games.

The Suns are weak on D and Carmelo Anthony (22.1 ppg) and Chauncey Billups (18.3 ppg) may have big scoring games tonight, which they will need since the Suns will run and gun tonight.

Steve Nash (15.3 ppg 9.6 assists per game) will have to be the QB of the fast paced offense of the Suns and distribute the ball well tonight.

The Suns have won 8 straight home games against the Nuggets.

If the Suns lose this home game it is a good possibility that they will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Jason’s Pick: I like the Suns to cover as the favorite.