PHOENIX SUNS

Nuggets advance past Blazers, draw Phoenix Suns in 2nd round

Jun 3, 2021, 10:15 PM | Updated: Jun 4, 2021, 1:34 am

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns looks to pass around Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets d...

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns looks to pass around Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets during the NBA game at Phoenix Suns Arena on January 23, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Denver Nuggets eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night in six games, ending the series with a 126-115 win in Portland.

The third-seeded Nuggets will play the Phoenix Suns after the Suns eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers in six games later that night.

Denver was one of the few teams the Suns did not have a winning record against in the regular season. Due to the dynamics of the regular season schedule in the middle of a pandemic, Phoenix played all three of its games against the Nuggets in January, including a back-to-back at home.

After defeating the Nuggets 106-103 on Jan. 1 in Denver, the Suns lost to Denver 130-126 in overtime on Jan. 22 and 120-112 the day after in double overtime. Suns fans will remember the second loss, in particular, as Denver’s Jamal Murray hit a game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer that he traveled on.

Murray, the Nuggets’ second-leading scorer and starting point guard, tore his ACL in mid-April and is out for the rest of the season.

The Nuggets are led by MVP favorite Nikola Jokic. The Serbian averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game, all while shooting 56.6% from the field and 38.8% at three-point range.

Without Murray, though, Denver’s short on depth in the backcourt. Against Portland, the Nuggets started rookie Facundo Compazzo and Austin Rivers, who they signed in late April. Backup guard Monte Morris is one of the best reserves in the league, but beyond that, the Nuggets will be hoping the injured Will Barton and/or P.J. Dozier can return.

Barton has been out since April 23 due to a strained right hamstring while Dozier hasn’t played since he suffered an adductor strain on May 3. Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said in late May that Barton was closer than Dozier to returning, and Denver was optimistic about Barton potentially playing in a Game 7 against Portland if it was necessary.

Phoenix Suns

Timberwolves Nuggets Basketball...

Associated Press

Timberwolves advance after defeating defending NBA champion Nuggets in Game 7

The Timberwolves overcame a 15-point halftime deficit — the largest comeback in a Game 7 in NBA playoff history — in Sunday's win.

20 hours ago

T.J. McConnell...

Associated Press

Pacers punch ticket to Eastern Conference finals with Game 7 win over injured Knicks

The Pacers rode one of the most sensational first halves in Game 7 history to a win over the Knicks, advancing to the Eastern Conference finals.

1 day ago

Head coach Frank Vogel of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the second half of game three of the Weste...

David Veenstra

Suns GM James Jones on why Frank Vogel was fired: ‘We needed to improve in a lot of areas’

James Jones explained why the Suns fired Frank Vogel and why they waited so long to hire new head coach Mike Budenholzer.

3 days ago

Bradley Beal #3, Kevin Durant #35 and Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns watch from the bench duri...

Nick Borgia

James Jones on Suns’ Big 3: ‘Those guys aren’t going anywhere’

The Suns GM told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Friday that there are no plans of trading Devin Booker, Kevin Durant or Bradley Beal.

3 days ago

Mike Budenholzer and James Jones pose for a picture...

Dan Bickley

Suns’ Mike Budenholzer has a chance to reach new heights in Phoenix

Mike Budenholzer has already notched his first victory as Suns head coach. He dominated a must-win introductory press conference Friday.

3 days ago

Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer is introducted on Friday, May 17, 2024....

Kevin Zimmerman

Why Suns coach Mike Budenholzer might do what Frank Vogel couldn’t

Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer played to a frustrated fan base. He gave reason to believe why he can do what Frank Vogel didn't.

3 days ago

Nuggets advance past Blazers, draw Phoenix Suns in 2nd round