PJ Carlesimo Gives His Suns-Nuggets Preview

Arizona Sports News online

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)

Story by Maddyn Johnstone-Thomas

Buckle up for round two. 

The second-seeded Phoenix Suns are set to take on the third-seeded Denver Nuggets in the second round of the NBA Playoffs tonight with tip-off slated for 7 p.m. at Phoenix Suns Arena. 

Veteran NBA analyst P.J. Carlesimo joined the Brad Cesmat Show to give his thoughts on this matchup and his takeaways from the Suns’ series victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Brad Cesmat Show

The main storyline for Carlesimo? 

“It’s unusual to have a series where there’s two bigs that are so capable of scoring,” Carlesimo said. “You have two guys who you can post up. They’re totally different bigs, but they’re relatively young, but DeAndre (Ayton) showed what he can do when he runs the floor. When he caught the ball in the paint against the Lakers, the Lakers didn’t have anything to stop him at all. Whether he can beat Jokić down the floor is going to be interesting to watch.”

Carlesimo also credited the individual matchups within both teams, with players such as Michael Porter Jr. on the offensive end for the Nuggets.

He said that right now he’s favoring the Suns backcourt, while giving an edge to the Nuggets frontcourt because of how well they did offensively against the Portland Trailblazers. They are one of the top scoring teams in the league, and it’s sure to be an offensive affair. 

“You look at the two records and going forward now, the matchups in the West are going to be great games,” Carlesimo said. “Selfishy, I’m going to be disappointed if we aren’t looking at a six or seven game series. It’ll be interesting to see if Denver can get one in Phoenix.”

The Suns had a test in the first round going up against the defending champions, and they passed. Despite the young roster, the Suns showed their potential even though the series was back-and-forth. Now it’s another test to see if they can carry on that momentum. 

“Here’s a team that is inexperienced in the playoffs and welcome to the playoffs for the first time in double digit years and you get the defending champs.

“It became evident to me and most people, if Anthony Davis isn’t healthy, Phoenix is too good for them,” Carlesimo said. “The young guys, Devin (Booker), in particular were playing well. DeAndre (Ayton) was so good early, and I think Devin was good for the entire series.”

This year’s playoffs are different because of the way that the play during the regular season was formatted. Carlesimo noted that normally before a series, everyone looks at stats and sees who played better against who during the regular season. 

But this year, the first game of the series is usually where the team feels each other out and then makes adjustments from there. 

So who does he have taking home the series in the second round?

“It’s just going to be what are the strengths of these two teams, and let’s see what is going to happen on the court,” Carlesimo said.