The Denver Nuggets put up a valiant effort to beat the Phoenix Suns in Game 2 and grab a 2-0 lead in the second round series. Nikola Jokic, who lost to Joel Embiid in the MVP race for the season, finished with 39 points and 16 rebounds to lead Denver.

Phoenix did an excellent job containing Jamal Murray, who had 34 points in Game 1. And Murray’s 10 points on 3-15 shooting, including 0-9 from behind the arc, was the big reason the Nuggets struggled. The Suns couldn’t stop Jokic from carrying the Nuggets on his back.

“I don’t celebrate. We haven’t done anything yet. You haven’t won a series in two games.” Coach 🎙

It was an ugly win for Denver, but the Nuggets proved they can win in a defensive struggle. They only held the Suns up to 14 points, which was the deciding factor in their victory.

Kevin Durant had some good looks but he couldn’t make many of them. He had 24 points on 27 shots, 2-12 of them from deep. After the match, KD wasn’t bothered by his mistakes. He vowed to be more efficient with his shots in Game 3.

Devin Booker led the way for the Phoenix Suns with 35 points, six assists and five rebounds. He may be called upon to do more on Friday as Chris Paul is forced to sit out with a right groin injury.

The Suns will desperately need their bench to go up or this streak could end.

Where to watch

Game 3 of the series between the Denver Nuggets and the Phoenix Suns will start at 10 p.m. ET. ESPN will broadcast the game on national television.

Basketball fans can also catch the action by streaming the game via NBA League Pass.

Game preview

Bench production is crucial for the Phoenix Suns to win at least one game in their series against the Denver Nuggets. The Phoenix bench bled for just four points in game two. Bismak Byumbo and Cameron Payne scored two points each.

The Suns bench record going into the playoffs went 223-100, the most by far in the postseason. That disparity has forced Phoenix coach Monty Williams to play Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton in the heavy minutes.

Paul is now injured. Payne, who took over guard duties after “CP3” was knocked out with an injury, finished with 2 points on a 1-7 run, including 0-4 on three pointers.

The Phoenix Suns need both Durant and Booker to explode or they won’t get a chance to win a game in this series.

On the other hand, the Denver Nuggets have shown that they can win even when their players aren’t shooting very well. They just need their defense to keep up and Nikola Jokic to keep playing like back-to-back MVP the way he is.

The lingering voice of the Denver Nuggets practices today in Phoenix before Game 3 featuring Coach Malone and Nikola Jokic

Jamal Murray will be looking to bounce back after a bad shooting night in Game 2. Bruce Brown, Aaron Gordon and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have been great on the defensive end and with their hustles. They give Nuggets a gritty, crunchy vibe they didn’t have before.

Predict the game

Spread: Suns (-4)

Total (O/U): 224.5

money line: Nuggets (+155) vs. Suns (-180)

Kevin Durant and Devin Booker will prevent the Phoenix Suns from losing 0-3 against the Denver Nuggets. The Phoenix Bench will step up to give their superstars the much needed support.

Phoenix Suns 115 Denver Nuggets 108

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Edited by Michael McCassero


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