With the Western Conference Semifinals tied 2-2 heading back to Denver on the heels of back-to-back wins by the Phoenix Suns on their home court, there was legitimate concern for the Denver Nuggets’ title hopes for the first time this postseason.

But two decisive wins later, the Nuggets are advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the second time in four seasons.

Denver held their own at Ball Arena, where they are now 6-0 this postseason, in Game 5 with a 118-102 win. And in Game 6, facing a short-handed Suns team down Deandre Ayton, the Nuggets prevailed 125-100 for a 4-2 series victory.

The Nuggets blew the game open with a huge 15-0 run in the first quarter and never looked back. Denver led 81-51 at halftime.

Nikola Jokic had a signature triple double night with 32 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds along with 3 steals and a block. Jamal Murray, who was listed as questionable for Game 6 with a non-COVID illness, poured in 26 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals in support of the MVP runner-up. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also had a productive night, with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a block.

Most impressive was Denver’s defensive effort to limit the impact of two of the top players in an elimination game for those players. Kevin Durant finished with a decent looking 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists on a mediocre 8-19 FG with four turnovers and a -13 court rating. Devin Booker had an ugly shooting night, finishing 3-11 from the field, with all three makes coming on his 3-of-9 three-point shooting. Booker dished out eight assists, but held an atrocious -27 court rating.

After defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves in five games and the Phoenix Suns in six games, the Denver Nuggets are headed back to the Western Conference Finals.

The Nuggets will be the home team for the series once again, facing off against either the Golden State Warriors (who swept Denver last season in the first round) or the Los Angeles Lakers (who defeated the Nuggets in the 2020 Western Conference Finals.) At the time of the Nuggets advancement, the Lakers held a 3-2 lead against the Warriors with Game 6 on Friday and Game 7 on Sunday. The Western Conference Finals would likely start two or three days after the conclusion of the Lakers-Warriors series.

Eight wins down, eight wins to go: the Denver Nuggets are officially halfway to winning the 2023-24 NBA Finals, and will be one of the last four teams remaining.

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