NBA Western Conference Picks: Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets

Ty-Lawson-nuggetsPhoenix at Denver
Time: 9 PM ET, Feb 18, 2014
Line: PHO -2.5
Total: 215

Betting odds courtesy of Bovada

The Phoenix Suns are 30-21 on the season and trail Dallas by 1/2 game for the sixth spot in the Western Conference. The Suns were expected to be a lottery-bound team, while the converse can be said of its opponent tonight, the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets have been ravaged by injuries and first year coach Brian Shaw has struggled to get his team to play with consistency. The Nuggets sit three games below .500 at 24-27 and are six full games behind Golden State for the last playoff spot in the West. Though Denver will host this matchup against Phoenix, NBA oddsmakers find the visiting Suns to be 2.5-point favorites in the contest.

The biggest problem for the Nuggets this season has been an inability to get stops. The team ranks 28th in the NBA in points surrendered (104.5 per game), and while the Nuggets have been good at scoring the basketball, it hasn’t mattered much with the porous defense. The Nuggets will be without Ty Lawson, JaVale McGee, Andre Miller, Nate Robinson and Danilo Gallinari. Miller hasn’t played for personal reasons since early January, and Robinson and Gallo are out for the season. McGee likely won’t play due to a stress fracture in his tibia, . Lawson should be back on the court soon, but that likely won’t be enough to turn this season around for the Nuggets.

Phoenix (30-21) has the potential to be a spoiler team in the 2014 playoffs. The Suns are said to be pursuing some rebounding and interior scoring, and some veteran leadership, to help the team make this unexpected playoff push. The Suns were linked to Carlos Boozer, though nothing has come to fruition yet.

The Suns rank 13th in the NBA in rebounds per game (43.3), so adding a double-digit rebounder to the big rotation would go a long ways towards strengthening that facet. The Suns have been pretty poor defensively too, allowing 101.8 points per game (23rd in NBA).

Phoenix needs Eric Bledsoe back, too. Bledsoe underwent surgery to repair torn meniscus in his right knee on Jan 9th, and he’s been able to do some drills and shooting but he is still without a return date. Prior to injury, Bledsoe was averaging 18 points and 5.8 assists per game. With the former Kentucky guard on the sidelines, his backcourt mate Goran Dragic has stepped up his play.

Dragic is now posting 20.3 points and 6.2 assists per game on the season. Over his past 10 games, Dragic has averaged 23.7 points and 7.0 assists per game in 33.9 minutes per night. In a showdown against the Golden State Warriors, Dragic scored 34 points on 10-of-13 shooting while also dishing out 10 assists as the Suns defeated the Warriors by 13 points in Phoenix.

PHO Trends: 4-0 ATS in last 4 vs teams with losing SU records; UNDER 7-1 in last 8 road games vs teams with winning home records; 5-1 ATS in last 6 road games.

DEN Trends: Nuggets 0-5 ATS in last 5 games overall; UNDER 6-0 in last 6 on 3 or more days rest; 0-5 ATS in last 5 after allowing 100 or more in previous game.

Head-to-head: Suns 1-4-1 ATS in last 6 meetings in Denver; OVER 5-2 in last 7 meetings.

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