1. CP3 heats up. The Nuggets did well to limit the scoring efficiency of Suns point guard Chris Paul over the first three quarters of Game 1 as he deals with lingering shoulder soreness. Everything changed in the fourth. Paul opened the final quarter with four consecutive made baskets — punctuated by a deep triple that put Phoenix up by 16 points. The Nuggets never got their momentum back. It appears Paul’s shoulder issues are behind him. He had 21 points and 11 assists.
2. Torrey Time. Nuggets players reserved a few minutes before tip to embrace a teammate turned opponent. Suns wing Torrey Craig played three seasons in Denver (2017-20) and he showed love to old friends with smiles and hugs. But all that went away when Craig came off the Phoenix bench late in the first quarter. Craig blocked a Monte Morris layup attempt to force a shot clock violation on his first defensive possession. He connected on two shots from deep and had a thunderous dunk. Craig is becoming a key bench piece in Phoenix.
3. Jokic vs. Ayton. Presumptive MVP Nikola Jokic gave credit to Suns’ center DeAndre Ayton this week, saying the youngster gave him trouble defensively in three prior regular-season matchups this year. On Monday night, Jokic fell short of his playoff scoring average and was limited as a distributor. The Nuggets’ offense suffered as a result. Ayton was effective for the Suns with a double-double in points and rebounds. Jokic needs to take a stronger command of the offense moving forward in this series.
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