The Phoenix Suns and the Denver Nuggets will both be gunning for a victory on Wednesday when they meet at Pepsi Center.
Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets
When: 9:00 PM ET, Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona (Phoenix), Altitude (Denver)
PREDICTION: Nuggets 124, Suns 121
|517||PHOENIX||-5 (-110)||218.5 (-110)||170
Oddsmakers currently have the Nuggets listed as 5-point favorites versus the Sun, while the game’s total is 218.
The Denver Nuggets’ promising start has quickly gone south just 10 games into the season.
Denver beat New Orleans and Boston on the road on its way to a 3-3 start, but nothing has gone right for the team since. Four straight losses have the Nuggets in the basement of the Northwest Division heading into Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.
Now the Nuggets (3-7) will play the next four weeks without starting shooting guard Gary Harris. Harris, who didn’t play Sunday in a loss at Portland, is out with a foot injury suffered Saturday in a loss to Detroit. Harris started the season on the injured list with a groin injury, but this one is a big blow to a team struggling on both ends of the floor.
Harris provides offense and strong perimeter defense, but what the Nuggets need right now is to find cohesion. That missing element is a little surprising because the team bonded during training camp in Omaha, Neb., and during a ton of time on the road during the preseason.
Team record: 3-7 SU,6-4 ATS
Current Streak: lost 4 straight games.
Denver is 1-5 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Denver’s last 5 games
Denver is 1-8 ATS in its last 9 games at home
“It is surprising because you would think we’d have a better start because of how we got closer in training camp,” point guard Emmanuel Mudiay told The Denver Post. “We’re closer as a team this year than we were last year off the court. But, on the court, we have to keep working. We have to stay together.”
Harris’ absence at the start of the season was mitigated by Will Barton moving into the starting lineup. Barton, however, is nursing a severely sprained right ankle and coach Michael Malone said he could miss 4-6 weeks, which would put his return nearly at the end of November.
Denver also made a roster move Tuesday, waiving little-used guard/forward Jarnell Stokes.
The injuries could give rookie Jamal Murray a chance to shine. He is shooting 44 percent from 3-point range over the last five games and seems to have settled down after a rough start offensively.
If he does start, Murray will face a strong Phoenix backcourt led by Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker. The young guards have played well despite Phoenix’s 3-8 record.
The Suns are one of the more exciting young offensive teams in the league. They’ve lost four of their last five but got center Tyson Chandler back in the loss to Golden State on Sunday after he was away from the team following his mother’s death.
Team record: 3-8 SU,7-4 ATS
Phoenix is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games
Phoenix is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Phoenix’s last 5 games
“Tyson brings a lot of fire,” Suns guard Devin Booker told The Arizona Republic. “He’s a vocal leader for us. We need that. He’s been there. In those tough games, he knows what to expect.”
The Suns’ poor record aside, they have the talent to be good in the future. At least that’s what current Golden State coach and former Suns general manager Steve Kerr thinks.
“If you look four or five years ago with the Warriors, when Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) were really young, they hadn’t quite turned the corner,” Kerr told sfgate.com. “Eventually they did with (coach) Mark (Jackson), and getting (Andrew) Bogut, becoming a great defensive team. I like what the Suns are doing. It’s a team that’s going to be interesting to watch over the next couple years.”
The Nuggets are concerned about the current Phoenix team, as well as their own. Malone changed his starting lineup two games ago, inserting Kenneth Faried at power forward and bringing Nikola Jokic off the bench. It hasn’t produced a win, but the hope is it will soon.
“I think I need to have more fun out there,” Jokic told The Denver Post. “I think I just need to relax more. And then everything will be a little better.”