4 bold Suns predictions for Game 3 vs. Nuggets

The Phoenix Suns have to win Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Denver Nuggets. There is no other way to put it.

Phoenix faces an 0-2 deficit. If it loses, it will face an 0-3 hole that no team has ever recovered from in NBA playoff history.

Ahead of the game, we’ll be making four predictions for Game 3. 

The Suns lost their first two games against the Nuggets due to a lack of offense, which is surprising considering they have two superstars, Devin Booker, and Kevin Durant, to lead the way.

Phoenix took 17 fewer shots than Denver in Game 1, which they lost 125-107. The Suns recorded 19 more shot attempts in Game 2 but shot 40 percent from the field.

Phoenix will play Game 3 without starting point guard Chris Paul (left groin strain). Backup guard Cameron Payne could play in the starting lineup, and Suns coach Monty Williams said wings Terrence Ross and T.J. Warren might play more.

Phoenix is 2-1 at home this postseason and 13-5 in home games dating back to the 2021 playoffs.

Here are our four predictions for the Suns’ Game 3 against the Nuggets Friday night.

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Deandre Ayton finishes with 15 rebounds

Ayton has not been great this series. He finished with just 14 points in each of the first two games. Ayton also did not recorded double-digit rebounding totals.

The Suns’ center has been subject to criticism for his motor. He has shrugged off those questions but commented on an ESPN video that saw him standing under the basket while Nuggets center Nikola Jokic fought for offensive rebounds.

Deandre Ayton got the memo that we need him to rebounds!pic.twitter.com/1HyIT20IBI

— Ahaan Rungta (@AhaanRungta) April 30, 2023

Ayton and the Suns will have to collectively step up for Paul, who is the team’s assist leader. Ayton will not receive more offensive touches outside of post hooks and pick-and-roll shots from the free-throw line in, but he can score more if the Nuggets focus their efforts on Durant and Booker.

Ayton is going to have to play with a lot of energy for the Suns to win this series. He was candid Thursday about what the Suns need to do. Now, they have to go do it.

Deandre Ayton is embracing the challenge of an 0-2 series deficit:

“It’s new adversity, but it’s all a part of the playoffs.

“Now, we got to grit and grind. Now, we’re desperate. I kind of like it.” pic.twitter.com/YyazySRHHr

— Trevor Booth (@TrevorMBooth) May 4, 2023

Kevin Durant explodes for 45 points

The Suns have not yet had a signature game from Durant since he was traded to the team in February. Friday could be the night it happens.

Phoenix does not have Paul, so it is probable that Durant could bring the ball up more. He will have more opportunities to create his own shot, and the Suns will beat all of them to beat the Nuggets.

Durant did not play well in the Suns’ Game 2 loss to the Nuggets Monday. He had 24 points on 27 shots and made just 2-of-12 attempts from 3-point range.

That is very unlike Durant, who will respond in a big way Friday.

The Nuggets do not have a 1-on-1 answer for Durant. The Suns might have enough offense around him now that Ross and Warren are expected to play.

Paul’s absence will make things difficult, but Durant will carry the Suns in Game 3.

Nikola Jokic has 35-point triple-double

Ayton and Jokic are going to clash Friday night. Expect it to be a battle between two of the most talented centers in the game.

Ayton has to show energy and effort for the Suns’ fans to get behind him fully in Game 3. He has been criticized for his defense on Jokic in Games 1 and 2 and will need to produce to regain positive words from fans.

Jokic impressed in Game 2 with 39 points on 17-of-30 shooting with 16 rebounds and five assists.

The Suns found ways to slow point guard Jamal Murray. Jokic, however, is different.

He will face a better effort from Ayton but still be impressive.

Devin Booker will struggle, but the Suns will win

Booker has been the Suns’ best player, even though Durant is here.

He is averaging 35.4 points this postseason on 57.2 percent shooting (46.2 percent from 3-point range). He is also averaging 6.6 assists, which the Suns will need more of without Paul.

Booker will be relied on heavily Friday night. He has to take on a playmaking role, which may only increase if coach Monty Williams elects to play backup guard Landry Shamet over Payne, Ross and Warren.

The Suns’ guard is going to have his hands full doing so. Phoenix will get a big effort from Durant and win a narrow game. Booker will just have to do plenty from a passing aspect to win.

The Suns and Nuggets will play Game 3 of their semifinal series Friday at 7 p.m. PT. The game will be televised by ESPN.

The post 4 bold Suns predictions for Game 3 vs. Nuggets appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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