Suns vs. Nuggets score, takeaways: Chris Paul, Phoenix take down Denver in Game 3 of series
The final time the Phoenix Suns had been in the postseason they made the Western Conference finals. It appears like historical past is repeating itself. With a 116-102 win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday, the Suns took a 3-Zero lead in their second-round series and now seem poised to maneuver into the final 4 for the primary time since 2010.
Phoenix’s star backcourt of Devin Booker and Chris Paul led the best way with 55 mixed factors, nevertheless it was team-wide dominance of the Nuggets because the Suns as a complete shot over 46 p.c out of 3 and 53 p.c out of the sphere. Nikola Jokic tried bravely to provide his group an opportunity, however regardless of 32 factors, 20 rebounds and 10 assists, his nuggets had been clearly too brief.
The Suns can have an opportunity to beat Denver on Sunday evening when these two groups conflict for Game 4, however till then, listed below are the three key takeaways from Phoenix’s Game 3 win.
1. Groundhog Day
Take a have a look at that tall choose and roll Phoenix run for Chris Paul with slightly below six minutes to go in the fourth quarter …
Now take a have a look at the subsequent piece they ran …
Do you see any distinction? There is not any. It’s the very same sport. Deandre Ayton creates a excessive display for Paul. Monte Morris is misplaced on this display. Nikola Jokic falls into the colour. Paul drives to the identical spot on the correct elbow. Schwisch. Even the window dressing is similar as Devin Booker followers out to the left wing.
Phoenix pulled this piece by means of over and over as a result of Denver has no reply to it in any respect. Jokic is not quick sufficient to play on the display stage with such a weak defensive expertise round him, so Denver performed Paul Drop Coverage for many of the evening. They had no more sensible choice than to hope that Paul, one of the best middle-range shooters in NBA historical past, would merely miss his photographs. Obviously he did not.
It’s testomony to Paul’s greatness, sure, nevertheless it’s additionally admirable Phoenix brutality. They’re not ashamed of spamming the very same sport as a result of they knew the opposing defenses could not cease it. That’s what it takes to win late-stage playoff video games. They acknowledged a weak spot and took benefit of it, understanding that Denver’s squad was not a viable various, and the end result was a win and a 3-Zero lead.
2. Another dangerous evening for Aaron Gordon
Denver paid nicely to take on Aaron Gordon on the deadline, giving up not only a first-round choice however promising younger prospect RJ Hampton to safe the versatile striker. The transfer regarded nice when Denver was at full power. The nuggets offensive demanded so little from Gordon that he simply needed to make the correct cuts and he acquired one easy basket after one other. But in Game 2 of that series he was solely held at six factors and on Friday evening he shot 2 out of 10 out of the sphere.
It’s not your individual fault. It is solely a symptom of Denver’s well being issues. When the Nuggets had Jamal Murray and a wonderfully wholesome Will Barton, the protection could not get Gordon off the ball as a result of they did not have the assets to take action. It took an excessive amount of to cowl Murray, Jokic, and Michael Porter Jr. But with Denver so weakened from accidents, Phoenix not solely discover it simpler to control Gordon, they’ve sagged aggressively from him understanding he will not beat them as a shooter. Essentially, Jae Crowder turned it into an additional rim protector on Friday.
It simply exhibits you ways awkward being an RPG participant might be. Gordon was employed to do particular issues on a selected roster. Now that the roster has modified, he’s being put in a place the place his weaknesses are compounded. He made up for some of these weaknesses with a troublesome evening on protection, however in the top, Denver’s accidents imply way more than simply lacking gamers. You have essentially modified the best way this roster works.
3. Can Phoenix maintain the glass?
If the suns fought in one space tonight, it was on the glass. Denver posted an astonishing 18 offensive rebounds. The suns solely had 4. The hole between these groups was so nice that it did not matter. Denver can accumulate all of the factors they need for the second likelihood and the nuggets will nonetheless lose as a result of Phoenix scores on their first likelihood. But the remaining of the playoff discipline is not so forgiving.
At the second, the Utah Jazz lead the Los Angeles Clippers 2-0 in their second spherical series. If the Jazz take care of enterprise and make it to the ultimate of the Western Conference, Rudy Gobert will trigger Phoenix simply as a lot bother as Jokic did. The distinction is that Utah is sweet sufficient for such a bonus to essentially matter. If you lose in the offensive glass to jazz at 14, you’ll doubtless lose the sport. Your taking pictures is simply too good to surrender second probabilities.
It’s a narrative to observe as Phoenix watches the third spherical. The Suns are doing a lot proper proper now that they needn’t spot a single weak spot, and Phoenix was a few league-average rebound group in the common season. But each little mistake counts because the groups transfer into the postseason later and later, and that is one which the Suns want to repair earlier than they face jazz.