The Phoenix Suns won their first game of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Denver Nuggets, 121-114.
The Suns were led by shooting guard Devin Booker, who had 47 points on a blistering 20-of-25 from the field. Booker also had nine assists and six rebounds.
Phoenix also got 39 points out of forward Kevin Durant, but it was not an efficient game. He shot 12-of-31 from the field but made 14-of-16 free-throw attempts.
Ahead of Game 4 Sunday, we’ll be making four predictions.
ClutchPoints predicted Friday that Durant would have 45 points. Booker had the hot game and did not struggle at all, something that proves the level he’s playing at is legit.
Center Deandre Ayton underwhelmed with just four points on 2-of-6 shooting. However, the Suns got a big game from forward Jock Landale, who had nine rebounds in 22 minutes.
Backup forward T.J. Warren also stood out in his first game having significant minutes this postseason. He was a team-best plus-20 and had five points in the final 2:30 that helped the Suns seal the game.
Phoenix is looking to even the series at two games each Sunday. Here are four predictions for the game.
Jamal Murray is limited more
Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray has upped his game in the playoffs. He did not play well in Game 2 but responded Friday, scoring 32 points on 13-of-29 shooting.
The Suns changed their rotation quite a bit. Forward Torrey Craig, who started in the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers, only played three minutes. Starting wing Josh Okogie only played 10 minutes of the game.
Okogie played well on Murray in Game 2, which forced Denver’s star to be more disengaged. The Suns’ rotation is unpredictable, but Okogie will stand out in Game 4 and give Murray fits.
T.J. Warren plays 30+ minutes
Suns point guard Chris Paul is not expected to play Game 4 due to a left groin strain. Warren played 26 minutes in Game 3 and earned the trust of coach Monty Williams, who played him in the closing minutes.
Phoenix has not been consistent with its rotation. Backup guard Landry Shamet, who was a team-worst minus-10 in Game 3, still played 25 minutes. It has not made sense to fans, who even booed Shamet in the arena.
But Williams said Friday the Suns’ closing lineup — which included Booker, Durant, Shamet, Warren, and Landale — was based on “feel”. He seems to be looking for something that works, and Warren can provide physicality and scoring.
Devin Booker wows the crowd
This prediction Friday said Booker would struggle, just because he would take on more without Paul.
That was not the case. Booker has proven his play is legitimate, and he might have a case for being the best player in the world.
The Suns’ guard will have to have another big game. Phoenix is inconsistent outside of him and Durant, who is still looking for an efficient, breakout game.
It is crazy to expect, but Booker is almost certainly due for a 30-plus point game in Game 4. He will hit a lot of tough shots and bring Suns fans to their feet a lot.
Suns lose, barely
The Suns put pressure on the Nuggets with their Game 3 win. They showed some things that can work, specifically with Landale and Warren.
Phoenix is not deep enough, however, to compete with Denver in a seven-game series. The Nuggets came back from the Suns’ 15-point lead at halftime and led in the third quarter.
The Suns had a terrific home crowd, which exploded as Booker went off for 45-plus. Still, Denver stayed even, as Jokic, Murray, and forward Michael Porter Jr. had big numbers.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone has led resilient teams the last few seasons. Denver became the first team in history to overcome multiple 3-1 deficits in the 2020 bubble. They are not going to take the Suns lightly.
Phoenix will play a very competitive game, but it will not be enough to outlast Denver.
Game 4 between the Suns and Nuggets will tip off at 5 p.m. PT. It will be televised by TNT.
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