The Daily Sweat: Denver needs another big playoff comeback

·5-min read

This Denver Nuggets team doesn’t feel capable of a massive comeback.

To be fair, no NBA team has ever shown its capable of a 3-0 comeback. A team has never blown a 3-0 series lead in NBA playoffs history. And Denver will be facing a 3-0 deficit if it loses Friday night at home to the Phoenix Suns.

Denver (-1.5) came back from 3-1 series deficits twice in the 2020 playoffs. The Nuggets toppled the Jazz after going down 3-1 in the first round and then followed that up with an even more improbable 3-1 comeback against the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals.

That Denver team featured both Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Murray became an NBA star in the bubble at the end of 2020 as he had three straight games with 42 or more points against the Jazz and then scored 40 in the Game 7 win over the Clippers.

With Murray and Jokic and emerging star Michael Porter Jr., the Nuggets looked like championship contenders for much of this season. But that all changed in April when Murray tore an ACL.

The injury knocked him out for the season and put more pressure on Jokic and Porter. While Jokic has responded — he was the overwhelming MVP for a reason and has shown he’s one of the best all-around offensive players on the planet — and Porter is a guy that can score points in bunches, this is a team that’s another very good player away from the title.

That’s been evident through the first two games of the Phoenix series. As Phoenix starts Chris Paul and Devin Booker in the backcourt, Denver has been going with Facundo Campazzo and Austin Rivers with Monte Morris off the bench. While Will Barton made his return in Game 2 from a long-term hamstring injury, he played just 16 minutes.

With DeAndre Ayton capable of (relatively) guarding Jokic on his own, Phoenix has been free to focus on taking away everyone else. No other Denver player outside of Jokic has scored more than 20 points in any of the first two games of the series. That’s a stat that doesn’t happen with Murray on the court.

With home-court advantage and a hot shooting night from three, Denver can put a little pressure on Phoenix on Friday night. The Nuggets are just 28-of-83 from three through the first two games. A 40% or better night from deep will go a long way to avoiding a sweep.

But if Denver keeps shooting poorly — and Porter isn’t totally healthy after tweaking his back at the end of Game 1 — then Phoenix has the ability to end the series before the weekend is over.

Don’t race to bet on NASCAR’s top series this weekend

Yes, this is our advice to you to not bet the NASCAR race this weekend. The Cup Series All-Star Race is on Sunday night and Kyle Larson (+300) is the favorite. He starts first in the 100-lap race.

But you shouldn’t bet Larson or any other driver. The convoluted All-Star Race format makes the race not worth betting on. While we could tell you with some confidence to bet Larson, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin or any other driver if the race was 100 laps straight up, it’s hard to predict what will happen in a six-stage race that features multiple inverts.

The field will be shaken up multiple times throughout the race. Drivers that finish at the front in one stage will have to start at the back in another. You could have a guy like Larson with a fast car get stuck in traffic and have his chance at a win ruined simply because of one of the inverts.

If you’re interested in all of the All-Star Race rules, you can click here. But take our word for it. Sit this Cup race out and wait for next week at Nashville Superspeedway.

Lower series NASCAR picks

Kyle Busch is in the Xfinity Series race on Saturday and is the overwhelming favorite at -120. Austin Cindric is the No. 2 favorite and he’s at +500. Bet Busch on this one.

Saturday afternoon’s Truck Series race features Chase Elliott. He’s the No. 2 favorite at +325 behind John Hunter Nemechek. (+275). Austin Hill is decent value at +700.

Why not try out a cross-sport parlay?

BetMGM is offering four cross-sport parlays for Friday night. The one with the best odds is on the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels to all win at +350. If you like a long shot, you can go with the Philadelphia 76ers, Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres to all win at +900. They’re worth checking out if you think you can hit on both baseball and basketball.

Dustin Johnson’s odds tumble

Dustin Johnson is the huge favorite at the Palmetto Championship following a 6-under round of 65 on Thursday. Johnson ended the day one shot off the lead set by Chesson Hadley and Wes Roach and is +200 to win the tournament as the second round gets underway. The No. 2 favorite is Erik Van Rooyen at +1200. He also shot a 6-under.

MLS is back

The first MLS game in two weeks will be played on Saturday when Austin FC travels to Kansas City to take on Sporting KC.

MLS has been on a break thanks to international fixtures throughout the first week of June and the game Saturday is the only game of the weekend. Sporting previously beat Austin at home after Austin went down to 10 men in the second half and is a -140 favorite to win again. Austin played well against Sporting until the red card and +290 for the tie may not be a bad play here.

More from Yahoo Sports: