The Phoenix Suns will try to stretch their magical run as they tangle with the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals series
After six games, the feisty Phoenix Suns put the banged-up NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers out of their misery in the first round of the 2021 playoffs.
On the other side of the Western Conference bracket, the Denver Nuggets proved they are still a force to be reckoned with even without star guard Jamal Murray as they also handed a six-game series loss to the fully rostered Portland Trail Blazers.
While these two series had different casts of characters with different circumstances, they both ended at the same time, and proved the same thing for the victors: they are real contenders.
Even after a scary shoulder injury for oft-maligned Suns leader Chris Paul, he came through in fine style, played every single first-round game, and averaged 9.2 points and 7.7 assists.
Devin Booker averaged 29.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in his first career playoff series, while DeAndre Ayton, also a postseason rookie, tallied 15.8 points and 10.7 rebounds on an elite 80% shooting clip.
While the Suns got their fire from their usual suspects, the Nuggets had to get creative without usual starters Murray and Will Barton, and sure enough, multiple key cogs were just waiting for their time to shine.
Facundo Campazzo and waiver wire signee Austin Rivers showed off their facilitating, scoring, and defensive prowess, while bench spark plug Monte Morris quietly averaged 15.3 points – more than Heat superstar Jimmy Butler – to go with 5.8 assists and 1.3 steals.
With Denver’s tertiary firepower all secured with these three guards, it’s now up to MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic and rising star Michael Porter Jr. to shoulder the rest of the offensive load.
Jokic, as usual, has been making pro basketball look effortless with norms of 33.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists, while Porter is chipping in 18.8 points on 54% shooting and 42% from three.
Going into their semifinals clash, both the Suns and the Nuggets have worked their way around their lapses in overall health and have looked unstoppable at times during their respective first-round battles. However, only one team can keep moving forward.
Will the Suns continue their awe-inspiring single-season turnaround under Paul the “Point God” or will the Nuggets’ improvisation around Jokic bring them more success?
Game time is 10 am on Tuesday, June 8, Manila time.
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