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Suns vs. Nuggets rating, takeaways: Chris Paul helps Phoenix dominate Denver in Sport 2, take 2-0 sequence lead

The Phoenix Suns pulled out a dominant 123-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Sport 2 on Wednesday evening to take a 2-0 lead within the second-round sequence. The victory was the fifth straight for Phoenix this postseason. Chris Paul led the way in which for the Suns with 17 factors, 15 assists and 0 turnovers. Paul’s assist-to-turnover ratio within the sequence is now a staggering 26-1. Devin Booker additionally added 18 factors and 10 rebounds for the surging Suns. 

Phoenix seemed to be a step sooner than Denver on each ends of the ground within the second recreation, because it obtained nearly no matter it wished on the offensive finish whereas concurrently making issues tough defensively for Denver. All 5 Suns starters scored in double figures,  in comparison with solely two for the Nuggets’ first 5. Freshly minted MVP Nikola Jokic paced the Nuggets with 24 factors, 13 rebounds and 6 assists, however his manufacturing wasn’t practically sufficient, particularly with minimal assist from the blokes round him. Shifting ahead, Nuggets coach Mike Malone goes to have to determine a solution to get his group going, significantly Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr., who mixed for simply 17 factors on 6-of-20 capturing in Sport 2. 

The one excellent news for the Nuggets proper now’s that the sequence if about to shift to Denver for Video games 3 and 4. There, the Nuggets will clearly look to play higher than they have been capable of do in Phoenix. Sadly for Denver, the maths is not on its aspect. A complete of 430 playoff sequence have began 2-0, and solely 28 occasions has the group that gained the early benefit didn’t win the sequence, per Land of Basketball. That is lower than seven p.c of the time. The latest instance of this occurred within the first spherical this yr, because the Los Angeles Clippers bested the Dallas Mavericks in seven video games after dropping the primary two video games of the sequence. So, it is not an inconceivable feat, however it’s an unlikely one. The Nuggets cannot take into consideration the chances, clearly, as their full focus must be on Sport 3, which is scheduled for Friday evening. Earlier than shifting on to that recreation, although, listed here are three key takeaways from Sport 2. 

1. CP3 placed on a playmaking clinic 

Chris Paul is among the finest playmakers in NBA historical past, and his passing skill was on full show in Sport 2. Paul picked aside Denver’s protection with precision passing, and he set his teammates up with open alternative after open alternative over the course of the competition. When all was stated and finished, Paul had compiled 15 assists, which is tied for the third most he is ever had in a playoff recreation — and he is performed in an entire lot of playoff video games. Equally as spectacular because the sheer variety of assists that he had was how Paul did not file a single turnover throughout your complete recreation. He completed with a 15-0 assist-to-turnover ratio.

 As eye-popping as Paul’s numbers have been, this is not the primary time that Paul recorded a minimum of 15 factors, 15 assists and 0 turnovers in a playoff recreation. Actually, it is not even the second time. Paul has now achieved the feat thrice — the identical variety of occasions as all different gamers mixed since 1980.

Paul has now recorded a 15-point, 15-assist, zero-turnover recreation in three totally different a long time. Let that sink in for a second. The man’s longevity is spectacular. Everybody loves to speak about LeBron James’ longevity, and rightfully so, however Paul must be talked about in the identical breath. Over a decade and a half into his profession, Paul nonetheless seems to be close to the height of his powers, and he is an infinite a part of the explanation why the Suns are actually simply two wins away from a convention finals look. 

2. The Nuggets weren’t making their 3s, however stored capturing them

Denver had a tough evening from past the arc. The Nuggets began out slowly from lengthy vary, and so they have been by no means fairly capable of get well. They shot simply 1 of 13 from deep within the first quarter, however that did not discourage them. As a substitute of claiming “hey, possibly it is not our evening from lengthy vary” and seeking to assault the basket, the Nuggets simply continued to fireplace up 3s. When the ultimate buzzer sounded, the Nuggets had tried 43 3s, and made simply 14 of them. That is lower than 33 p.c — effectively beneath the league common. 

There’s one thing to be stated about leaning on a beforehand profitable technique. Keep on with what obtained you there, as they are saying. Typically, although, changes should be made on the fly. Once you’re having an off evening from past the arc, combine issues up. Go to the rim, draw some fouls, attempt to get a few simple ones to go in and construct off of that. That is fundamental basketball, however the Nuggets did not do it in Sport 2. By persevering with to jack up pictures from lengthy vary, the Nuggets performed proper into the Suns’ arms, because the misses led to transition alternatives for Phoenix. Shifting ahead, the Nuggets will possible shoot higher from lengthy vary, but when not hopefully they’re going to finally modify their offensive strategy. 

3. Denver actually misses Jamal Murray on this sequence

After Jamal Murray went down with an ankle harm throughout the common season, many anticipated the Nuggets to sink within the standings. That did not occur as they have been as an alternative capable of keep their place. Then, they have been capable of advance previous the Portland Path Blazers within the first spherical with out Murray. He was missed, however they have been capable of get the job finished with out him. That may not be the case on this sequence, although, as Murray’s absence is clear and his manufacturing is badly wanted. 

Exterior of Jokic, the Nuggets are having a troublesome time getting something occurring the offensive finish. In Sport 2, Denver’s guard trio of Austin Rivers, Facundo Campazzo and Monte Morris mixed for simply 12 factors on 4-of-19 capturing. They have been severely outplayed and out-produced by Phoenix’s backcourt for the second straight recreation, and their frontcourt duo of Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. did not fare significantly better. Nobody is stepping up and seizing that secondary position subsequent to Jokic — Murray’s position. When he is on the market, Murray is a man who can go and get a bucket nearly each time he needs, particularly when the protection is keying in on Jokic. It was simply final season that he had two 50-point performances within the first spherical towards Utah. Murray can rating, and for the primary time since he went down, it is extraordinarily evident how badly Denver misses him. With out him, the expertise disparity within the sequence may simply be too massive for Denver to beat. 

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