Following a convincing win in Game 5, the Denver Nuggets (60-32) are heading on the road for Game 6 with a chance to close things out against the Phoenix Suns (51-41). Phoenix won both games at home earlier in the series, and they’ll need another win at home tonight to send things back to Denver for Game 7. 

For Denver, the Nuggets played fundamental basketball on both ends of the floor in Game 5, and they finally got some luck to go their way with both Kevin Durant and Devin Booker struggling from the floor. A 25-point outing from Bruce Brown along with a 5-of-8 night from 3-point range by Michael Porter Jr. went a long way towards boosting their offense as well.

For the Suns, with Chris Paul (groin) out again tonight, the weight of the team continues to fall on the shoulders of Booker and Durant. Those two have combined to score 327 of the team’s 546 points, and Booker specifically has remained extremely efficient with a .600/.571/.893 slashline. If Phoenix has any hope of getting this series to seven games, they’ll need those to come out firing.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (60-32, 39-7 away) @ Phoenix Suns (51-41, 32-14 home)

When: 8:00 p.m. MST

Where: Footprint Center

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. ESPN. Show up in Phoenix. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Expected Starting Lineups:

PHX: PG Cameron Payne, SG Devin Booker, SF Josh Okogie, PF Kevin Durant, C Deandre Ayton

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Michael Porter Jr., PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Chris Paul (groin) OUT

Three Things to Watch

Win the Transition Battle

Unlike the rebounding battle that often tells the story of who wins and loses a game, the battle for fastbreak points doesn’t always tell the story. However, in this series, there has been a clear disparity in that category for the Nuggets in their losses. In their three wins, they’re a collective -1. In fact, Game 5 was the first time in the series that they had won the battle of fastbreak points. In their two losses, they were -10 and -12. Denver isn’t necessarily going to get out and run constantly, but they have to limit or match the opportunities of the Suns in that arena.

Force Booker and Durant to Work

The Nuggets did a good job of this in Game 5, but they need to maintain that effort and energy in Game 6. Both of them got a couple of easy looks, but, for the most part, the Nuggets were making them work for every single bucket that they were getting. Booker has played 40 or more minutes in every game, and Durant has played 40 or more minutes in four of the five games in this series. The more the Nuggets can make those two work will lead to more success late in the game as they get more worn out.

Involve Everyone

In Games 3 & 4, the Nuggets were running their offense almost entirely through Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. When their offense has been the most successful all season long, they get everyone else involved. On Tuesday night, it was MPJ and Brown. In Game 1, Aaron Gordon had 23 points. Getting the team involved stretches the defense, and that leads to easier shots for everyone.