The No. 1 seed Denver Nuggets and No. 4 seed Phoenix Suns will meet in the second round of the 2023 NBA playoffs with both teams having championship expectations. The Nuggets have a homegrown core featuring two-time league MVP Nikola Jokic, while the Suns feature a blend of high draft picks and big-time veteran acquisitions. The biggest of those acquisitions was Kevin Durant, who came to Phoenix at this year’s trade deadline. These teams met four times during the regular season and split the series, but none of those games were reflective of the rosters that will on the floor for Game 1 of this series.
The Nuggets are finally healthy and have plenty of depth around Jokic, who continues to excel as the focal point of this offense. Denver has homecourt advantage and should be able to use its depth well, since Phoenix’s bench is quite thin. If the Nuggets can push the Suns’ stars hard, it’ll start to show by the middle of the series. Phoenix cannot afford any foul trouble from its top guys.
The Clippers had enough depth even without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to scare the Suns. The Nuggets offer a much tougher test. However, the combination fo Durant and Devin Booker might be enough to pull Phoenix through. The Suns have been a dominant offensive team in the playoffs and have only lost once when Durant was on the floor. Chris Paul has started to find his midrange game again, and Deandre Ayton is making key plays when needed. Depth is an issue, but the starting lineup can do enough damage to push the Suns past the Nuggets.