Semifinal: 1st seed Denver Nuggets vs. 5th seed Phoenix Suns
The Denver Nuggets are about as consistent as they come. The team's 1-5 are locked in and they are ready to make another deep run in the playoffs. Nikola Jokic is otherworldly and Jamal Murray is an incredible second option - he also seems to come alive in clutch moments.
The Phoenix Suns are looking to build that same consistency amongst their own group. The team is finally healthy, now that Bradley Beal is off the injury report, and they are looking to be a force come playoff time.
The Suns are hot right now, pun intended. They are winners of 12 out of their last 15 games and their best basketball is yet to be played. The team is centered around the big three of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal. There are other pieces for the Suns, of course, including but not limited to Jusuf Nurkic, the former teammate of Jokic. Nurkic plays a similar game to that of Jokic, albeit at about 60% of the impact. Nurkic is a playmaking center who rebounds well and can dominate the paint due to his size.
Nurkic will undoubtedly play a big role in this series, and he will be an important X factor in determining who comes out of this series and into the Western Conference Finals. Nurkic might be a great fourth option for the Suns, but the Nuggets' fourth option is Aaron Gordon and the fifth is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
The Nuggets are just well-balanced. They do everything well. They rebound, they pass, they play defense, and they shoot, where are the flaws with this team? One could point to the inexperienced bench. They no longer have Bruce Brown coming off the bench. However, Reggie Jackson has dialed back the clock and is performing about as well as he ever has to pick up any slack this bench might be showing.
Overall, series like these come down to consistency. And I am going to side with the team that has been the most consistent over the past two seasons. The star power is strong in Phoenix and I want to believe in the Suns, but after the way the Celtics dismantled the James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant-led Nets, I can't help but side with the team that's played and won together for years. Nuggets role on.
Prediction: Denver Nuggets win 4-3