Phoenix At Denver
When: 8:00 PM
ET, Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
The Denver Nuggets are dominant at home and despite injuries to a pair of top players, they'll enter the postseason with a full head of steam. The Nuggets have won six of their last seven games and a victory Wednesday against the visiting Phoenix Suns would give Denver the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. The Nuggets have won 22 straight at home, where they are an NBA-best 37-3, and 5-1 overall since losing Danilo Gallinari to a season-ending knee injury.
Denver will be also without high-energy forward Kenneth Faried, who sprained his left ankle Sunday in Portland and won't play Wednesday. He is expected to return for the playoffs, though. The 6-8 second-year player, who also missed Monday's 112-111 victory at Milwaukee, averages 11.5 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds. The Suns will finish with the worst record in the Western Conference, but have won two of their last three games, including a 119-112 victory over playoff-bound Houston on Monday.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Arizona, Altitude (Denver)
ABOUT THE SUNS (25-56): As the sun sets on a third straight losing season in Phoenix, it seems unlikely interim coach Lindsey Hunter will be retained. Hunter is 12-28 since taking over for Alvin Gentry (13-28 before being fired Jan. 18) and endured a 10-game losing streak before the Suns' recent success. It has been a trying trial for Hunter, who said he's had to teach such basic aspects of the game as the difference between strong side and weak side. Phoenix is one game behind Cleveland (24-57) for the third-worst record and a more favorable position in the NBA Draft Lottery.
ABOUT THE NUGGETS (56-25): While the health of Faried will play a huge role in Denver's postseason success, the Nuggets will also need continued strong play from Wilson Chandler. The 6-8 swingman has averaged 20 points - well above his 12.8 season number - in the five complete games the Nuggets played without Gallinari, and has made four of his seven starts during that span. Coach George Karl, though, would rather not have Chandler start. "I like him off the bench and I like playing him where the game tells me to play him, rather than letting the other team sometimes take him out of it,'' Karl told the Denver Post.
1. If the Nuggets finish with the No. 3 seed, they will will meet Golden State or Houston in the first round. The Warriors lead the Rockets by one game for the No. 6 seed, but Houston owns the tiebreaker by virtue of its 3-1 season series victory. Golden State plays at Portland on Wednesday while the Rockets visit the Los Angeles Lakers, who are still fighting for a playoff spot. Denver was a combined 7-1 against Golden State and Houston, including 4-0 against the Rockets.
2. The Suns and Nuggets split two meetings this season. Phoenix snapped a six-game losing streak to Denver with a 110-100 victory on Nov. 12 while the Nuggets prevailed 108-93 - also in Phoenix - on March 11 when C Kosta Koufos scored a career-high 22 points.
3. A victory would tie Denver for the seventh-best home record in NBA history. The Nuggets' home losses came against Miami, Minnesota and Washington.
PREDICTION: Nuggets 110, Suns 82
Stats and Records
Denver Off vs
106.0 Points For
101.4 Points Against