Phoenix Suns: 3 Denver Nuggets Players Crucial to Shut Down

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Matthew Stockman/ Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Matthew Stockman/ Getty Images) /
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Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images) /

Phoenix Suns must shut down Aaron Gordon

Although a double-team drawn by Jokic certainly freed him up, it was still Aaron Gordon who sunk a corner 3-pointer to put his team up nine points with under a minute left to play during what would go down as a series clinching Game 6 victory for the Denver Nuggets. After watching him plunge a dagger through Portland’s heart while simultaneously punching Denver’s ticket to the Conference Semifinals, the Suns know how much damage a confident Aaron Gordon can do within this Nuggets offense.

But acknowledging an opponent’s abilities and figuring out how to defend against them remain two entirely different things. The Suns last saw Gordon during a late March contest, then playing for the Orlando Magic, a team far less talented and without the noteworthy organization frequently illustrated within Denver’s offense.

Regardless, Gordon still dropped a solid 13 points, seven rebounds, and three assists for the Magic. However, he struggled against Phoenix’s astute 3-point defense, forced into an 0-5 game from beyond the arc.

However, Gordon has caught fire from three lately, even shooting 60.0 percent which currently stands as the highest 3-point percentage among all Nuggets during the playoffs. Although likely guarded by Jae Crowder, who already works as a serviceable 3-point defender having limited his men to just 31.7 percent from deep this postseason, it was still Phoenix’s team-focused defense which shut down Gordon before.

With this matchup lining up as a “what’s gonna give” scenario, it remains crucial that the Suns return with a stingy, full-team approach while defending Gordon from outside, with Jae Crowder’s excellence of course included.

In accordance with this, Gordon has only shot 57.4 percent from the charity stripe thus far during the playoffs. During their defensive approach, the Suns need to play Gordon as aggressively as possible. His free-throw percentage in no way calls for a “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy to come into play, but if he were to head to the line, it might not come as the worst thing in the world, consequently making any extra aggression while guarding him worth the risk.