NBA Playoffs: Denver pulls Phoenix’s wings to move 1 win away from series

Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets take a 3-2 series lead after winning Game 5 over the Suns (David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Denver Nuggets pulled off a convincing Game 5 win over the Phoenix Suns, 118-102, and will only need one more win to advance to the Western Conference finals in the ongoing NBA Playoffs last May 10, 2023.

After losing two-straight games on the road which allowed the Suns to equalize their Western Conference semifinal series at 2-2, the Nuggets balled out and showed urgency to protect their home-court advantage with a dominant victory.

Nikola Jokic was a man on a mission for the Nuggets and showed no signs of slowing down when he dropped another triple-double of 29 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, and two blocks.

Despite a quiet first half when he only produced seven markers, the Serbian sensation flipped the switch in the last two quarters and helped the Nuggets take full control of the game when they started to blow out Phoenix midway through the third frame.

Jokic spearheaded their third-quarter siege and reverted to his efficient scoring ways in the paint when Jamal Murray ended the half cold offensively.

From his signature backdoor passes to Denver’s backcourt cutters and his two-man game with Murray, Jokic also tallied four offensive rebounds that handed the Nuggets more opportunities to operate their attack.

With 3:53 remaining in the third, Denver officially had the game under their belt when they extended their advantage to 20 points off a Bruce Brown layup.

Devin Booker and Kevin Durant did what they could to try to trim their deficit to single digits but the high-octane offense of the Nuggets was just too much for them that forced their head coach Monty Williams to wave the white flag when he subbed out all of his starters in the three-minute mark of the final quarter.

Michael Porter Jr., who became a non-factor in the first two games against the Suns, finally regained his shooting rhythm and backstopped Jokic with 19 points built from an efficient 7/11 shooting from the field.

The sweet-shooting small forward immediately got hot in the first 12 minutes of the game and dropped 14 of his 19 points.

On the other hand, the Suns got 28 points from Booker and 26 from Durant but are still not enough to slow down Jokic and the Nuggets. Although they scored a decent amount of points, the duo failed to shoot the ball efficiently and only combined for an 18/43 shooting from the field.

Phoenix will look to avoid elimination on May 12, 2023, and will go back home to the Footprint Center for Game 6 against Denver.