Two teams, twenty-one games under .500, five NBA Rising Stars Challenge selections, one of the most generic team names in sports (Suns), five thousand two hundred eighty feet above sea level, zero defense, two hundred plus points, and one highly competitive game… Just a few things to look forward to when the Phoenix Suns (15-30) head to Denver to take on the Nuggets (19-25) in tonight’s NBA Pick of the Night.
Phoenix comes into this matchup losers of 3 of their last 5 games, and owners of the 3rd worst record in the NBA. Yikes. Meanwhile, Denver has won 3 of their last 5 games, and currently holds down the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Denver has won both matchups between the two this season (by an average of 11 points) covering the spread each time, but do they make it 3 straight?
Probably, but should you give the 7 points? Probably not…
For starters, the Suns have faced the 3rd toughest schedule this season, yet have managed the 9th best record against the spread (24-20-1); expounding 2 things: 1. their horrible record, and 2. how competitive they’ve been.
Over their last 10 games the Suns have gone 5-5 (which is a vast improvement in the W-L department), and 8-2 against the spread. Taking it a step further, 4 of those 8 covers came against Cleveland, San Antonio, Toronto, and Utah… Remember that part about Phoenix playing the 3rd toughest schedule? Yeah, they’re playing good teams close, and Denver is not a good team. They’re aight, but good? That’s a stretch.
Want more numbers used arbitrarily to prove why the Suns are my NBA pick of the night? You’re in luck! Both teams played Tuesday night, Phoenix losing at the buzzer to Minnesota 111-112, and Denver beating Utah 103-93 at home. On the season, Denver is 8-10 ATS following a W, 12-12 ATS off 1 day of rest, and 5-5 ATS following a W and off 1 days rest. Not exactly evoking confidence.
On the other hand, the Suns are 17-11-1 ATS following a L, 17-10 ATS off 1 days rest, and 12-10-1 ATS as a road underdog… But, enough with the number vomit, there’s also a couple key matchups:
1. Emmanuel Mudiay will miss this contest for the Nuggets, and while Jameer Nelson appears to be ageless, it’s hard to imagine him keeping up with Eric Bledsoe.
2. Speaking of ageless, it feels like Tyson Chandler (one of the last straight from high-schoolers) has been in the league since Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was Chris Jackson, but he’s still doing his thing. Good news for Suns fans as Nikola Jokic (wait, who?!) has seen an increase in minutes, and as a result, is one of five players averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds in January (the others are Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis). I expect him to slow down Jokic… But, I use “slow down” loosely.
While I feel the Nuggets have enough to win, it should be close, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Suns win it outright. 7 points is just too many…
NBA Pick of the Night: Suns +7 (-110)
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