NBA Christmas Day is almost here, which means it is time for some Denver Nuggets bold predictions for their holiday affair. The Nuggets will conclude their four-game home sequence against the Phoenix Suns at 10:30 p.m. ET on Sunday at Ball Arena.
The Nuggets have recently won five out of their last six games. That includes victories against the Portland Trail Blazers on the road and the rising Memphis Grizzlies. Denver now has a 20-11 record and is at the top of the Western Conference.
Phoenix is 19-14 and fourth in the West. However, the team is struggling in December. The Suns are only 4-8 in the month, mostly due to leading-scorer Devin Booker dealing with an injury. It is uncertain whether he will play on Sunday. Additionally, starting power forward Cameron Johnson is out since November as he underwent knee surgery.
Still, despite all the problems with Phoenix, a matchup between two West powerhouses can always bring some surprises. With that being said, here are some bold predictions as the Nuggets face the Suns on Christmas Day.
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3. Denver’s defense forces Chris Paul to 3+ turnovers
For most of the past decade, Phoenix was a lottery team. Even with Devin Booker emerging as one of the best young players in the league and Deandre Ayton joining the franchise as a No. 1 pick, the team failed to make the playoffs. That only happened when Chris Paul was acquired in a trade.
With CP3 as the starting point guard, the Suns returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Not only that, but they made it to the NBA Finals in Paul’s first year in Arizona. Although they did not win the title, it gave fans hope for a brighter future.
Fast forward to 2022-23, the team is trying to get in shape as Booker misses time with an injury. That leaves Paul as the primary ball handler for the team and with an increased scoring load. He is currently shooting below 40%.
At least he is taking care of the ball very well. Paul is averaging just 1.9 turnovers against 9.1 assists. As a team, the Suns are averaging 13.2 turnovers per game, the third-best mark in the league.
The bold prediction is that, especially if Booker does not play, the Nuggets will apply a lot of pressure on Paul. Bruce Brown and Bones Hyland should give the veteran a hard time throughout all four quarters. Expect Denver to force many turnovers, including from Paul. Expect him to lose possession at least three times on Sunday.
2. Nikola Jokić records a 30-point triple-double
There is no secret that the Nuggets’ X-factor is Nikola Jokić. The Serbian has a real shot at winning his third consecutive MVP award. But perhaps most notably, this will be his first Christmas game as an MVP in the NBA.
Last season, the league did not include the Nuggets in its Christmas schedule. The Joker became the first reigning MVP to not receive a Christmas game since 2008 when the NBA went to five games in the day.
This time, it was too difficult to ignore Jokić and Denver. He is averaging near a triple-double and is currently tied with Dallas’ Luka Dončić for the most triple-doubles this season with six.
The bold prediction is that Jokić will go off on Sunday. In addition to recording a triple-double, he will also score 30-plus points. Should that happen, it will go down as one of the best Christmas performances in recent memory and cement Jokić’s name as one of the frontrunners for the MVP trophy once again.
1. Denver wins in dramatic fashion
At the end of the day, this should be a game between two real contenders for the Western Conference crown and even the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
While the Suns are without Johnson and possibly Booker too, the Nuggets just got Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr back. That’s huge.
According to FanDuel, Denver is the favorite to win this matchup. However, even with Jokić playing some of the best basketball of his career, the spread is only -3.5. This means that many are expecting this to be a very close game, with the final minutes becoming must-see television.
Still, Jokić is that guy for Denver. The bold prediction is that the Nuggets will end up winning in a dramatic fashion. The game should not be decided by more than 10 points and could certainly come down to the final possessions with Jokić controlling the ball for a final shot or Denver pressuring Phoenix to a bad shot. Either way, this should be one of the most entertaining games of this NBA Christmas Day.