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Phoenix Suns favored but action split as series vs. Denver Nuggets tips off

Jan 1, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) pressures Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) in the first quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets kick off their highly anticipated Western Conference semifinals series Monday night.

The second-seeded Suns are favored as they play host to Game 1 after closing out the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in dominating fashion. The third-seeded Nuggets are also coming off a six-game opening series in which they eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers.

Phoenix is the -180 favorite to win the series at PointsBet, but the sportsbook has seen two-way action on the series. The public has backed the Suns with 76 percent of the series handle, while 61 percent of the totals bets have been placed on the Nuggets.

Denver’s odds to win the series opened at +150 and currently sit at +160.

The public expects a high-scoring opener between the Suns, with sharpshooter Devin Booker coming off a monster series, and the Nikola Jokic-led Nuggets. Phoenix is a 4.5-point favorite at home and is backed by 60 percent of the spread bets. Game 1 is also seeing two-way action, with the Nuggets backed by 63 percent of the spread handle.

The action has been more one-sided at DraftKings, where the Suns are 5.0-point favorites in Game 1 and have been backed by 64 percent of the bets and 61 percent of the handle.

The most lopsided action at PointsBet has been on the 221-point Over/Under, with 86 percent of the bets and 91 percent of the handle being placed on the Over for Monday night’s game. The story is similar at DraftKings, where the 221.5-point Over/Under has seen 88 percent of the handle and 85 percent of the bets placed on the Over.

Phoenix won Game 5 of the Lakers series by 30 points and led the closing game by as many as 29 while finishing the series in dominating fashion.

“It certainly is cool to beat the defending champs, for sure,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “But you can only hold onto that for so long, and now you have to move towards another worthy opponent.”

Booker averaged 29.7 points in the series and went 8 of 10 from 3-point range and scored 47 points in the clinching game.

“I was just locked in, to be completely honest,” Booker said after Phoenix won its first playoff series since 2010. “We wanted to end it on their home court.”

Jokic and the Nuggets appeared headed toward a Game 7 with the Trail Blazers when they trailed by 14 points in the third quarter of Game 6.

But Denver revved up its attack, and Portland wilted under the pressure. The Nuggets outscored the Trail Blazers 47-22 over the final 16 minutes, 53 seconds to record a 126-115 victory.

Jokic scored 36 points to finish off a series in which he averaged 33.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists. He had five 30-point efforts.

“Nobody can take the fight out of us,” Jokic said. “We will just go out there and fight and that’s what we have been doing. We’re never going to quit. Quit is not in our vocabulary.”

–Field Level Media