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Preview: Denver looks to avoid a sweep and capture this must-win Game 4

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The Nuggets search for history as they hope to be the first team to come back from a 3-0 deficit.

Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets - Game Three Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

No team has ever conquered a 3-0 deficit in NBA playoff history. No team had also conquered a 3-1 deficit twice in the playoffs until Denver accomplished that feat last season. It is certainly an uphill battle, but this is a very prideful Denver team, and they look to take this series one game at a time.

Phoenix has played marvelous basketball this postseason. Their Game 3 victory was their fifth straight game defeating their opponent by double digits. During that span, they are averaging about 118 points per game while holding their opponent to just 98. They are the hottest team in basketball right now, and it will take a full team effort to escape with a victory tonight.

With that being said, there were some bright spots in Friday’s loss. Monte Morris returned to form, and Nikola Jokic accomplished history aside Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players with 30+ points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists in a playoff game. Denver will need another miraculous effort from him again tonight, but he needs all the help he can get to beat this scorching Suns squad.

The Essentials

Who: Phoenix Suns (3-0) at Denver Nuggets (0-3)

When: 6:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch: TNT

Rival Blog: Bright Side of The Sun

Projected Lineups

DEN: PG Facu Campazzo, SG Austin Rivers, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Michael Porter Jr., C Nikola Jokic

PHX: PG Chris Paul, SG Devin Booker, SF Mikal Bridges, PF Jae Crowder, C Deandre Ayton

Injury Report: PJ Dozier – out (adductor)

Three Keys

Shot selection. Denver has not found a consistent stroke from the three-point line so getting easier baskets in the paint will go a long way. Denver outshot Phoenix from the three-point line in all three games this series and it has not worked in their favor. The Suns have taken a strategy of quality over quantity from beyond the arc. Last game, they shot 46% on 26 attempts and much of that is due to their aggressiveness towards the basket creating open looks on the perimeter. Jokic cannot be the only one attacking the paint, they will need confident and aggressive showings from Gordon, Barton, Porter, and Morris to keep up with this Phoenix offense.

The supporting cast. It was a welcome sight to see Monte Morris regain form with 21 points on Friday, but his backcourt teammates did not provide adequate production. Denver’s starting backcourt of Rivers and Campazzo combined for 11 points compared to Phoenix’s 55. Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon will have to be much bigger factors as well. Gordon shot 2-10 and Porter 5-13 on Friday. Both can be effective cutters and post players when engaged, so if they are active off the ball they can create easy looks for themselves.

Defending the pick and roll. This has been the Achilles heel for Denver all series. Chris Paul is absolutely shredding Denver in this area creating open shots nearly every possession off this type of action. The Hall of Famer will find a way to develop a decent look nearly every possession, but the Nuggets must avoid wide-open looks and show a strong contest at the least. Off the pick and roll, the Suns love to create midrange opportunities or kick it out to the three-point line, so that will be an obvious area of focus for Denver.