The second round of the NBA playoffs got underway tonight as the Phoenix Suns managed to edge out the Denver Nuggets in an extremely close game that bodes well for the rest of the series. The game was poised on the knife-edge until halftime and both teams will be hopeful for the series despite the Suns’ victory.
The Suns are riding a high, having knocked out the defending champions and title contenders, the Lakers, in the previous round. They had to huff and puff to find a way past the Nuggets defense, but the blowout second-half victory will put their minds at ease going into the next game. Chris Paul has returned to his usual stellar self, following injury troubles and a scare against the Lakers, and a well-meshed, extremely well-balanced roster starring the likes of Paul and Devin Booker will make for a happy time for Suns fans.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets are continuing to fight for a dream run in a brutal, injury-ravaged season being rescued almost single-handedly by Nikola Jokic, who will surely be the NBA MVP after Steph Curry’s early exit. Jokic was restricted to a low (by his standards) 22 points in this game but will look to rectify that in Game 2. Deandre Ayton, though a perfectly capable player, will probably have a hard time holding Jokic to below 30 again, having seen glimpses of his explosiveness tonight.
Game 2 will see multiple tactical adjustments across the board, with the Suns in particular likely to tweak their formation to put more pressure on the undoubtedly revenge-hungry Jokic. The Nuggets, on the other hand, will be looking to exploit the Suns down the middle, a task not many teams have succeeded at this season. All possibilities point to an end-to-end game, with the series still up in the air.