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Suns, Nuggets tied 2-2 heading into game 5

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FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NBA LINE: Nuggets -5; over/under is 228

WESTERN CONFERENCE SECOND ROUND: Series tied 2-2

BOTTOM LINE: The Phoenix Suns visit the Denver Nuggets for game five of the Western Conference second round with the series tied 2-2. The Suns defeated the Nuggets 129-124 in the last meeting. Kevin Durant led the Suns with 36 points, and Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 53 points.

The Nuggets are 34-18 in conference games. Denver is 4-1 when it wins the turnover battle and averages 13.8 turnovers per game.

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The Suns are 30-22 in conference games. Phoenix averages 113.6 points while outscoring opponents by 2.0 points per game.

TOP PERFORMERS: Jamal Murray is averaging 20 points and 6.2 assists for the Nuggets. Jokic is averaging 27.7 points over the last 10 games for Denver.

Devin Booker is scoring 36.8 points per game and averaging 5.1 rebounds for the Suns. Durant is averaging 1.7 made 3-pointers over the last 10 games for Phoenix.

LAST 10 GAMES: Nuggets: 7-3, averaging 114.0 points, 44.8 rebounds, 24.6 assists, 7.8 steals and 3.3 blocks per game while shooting 48.5% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 106.6 points per game.

Suns: 6-4, averaging 116.8 points, 41.6 rebounds, 25.7 assists, 6.4 steals and 5.3 blocks per game while shooting 49.6% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 115.7 points.

INJURIES: Nuggets: None listed.

Suns: Chris Paul: out (groin).

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The Associated Press created this story using technology provided by Data Skrive and data from Sportradar.

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Maple Leafs move forward with Treliving as Dubas lands with Penguins – NHL.com

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TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs had a plan in place. With their fan base in panic mode after Kyle Dubas was not brought back as GM last month, the Maple Leafs introduced Brad Treliving on Thursday as the GM who would lead the franchise forward. 

This press conference was going to be about the future, about what the experienced Treliving, 53, could do for Toronto, not about Dubas, who 13 days earlier had been told his services would no longer be required after a five-year stint as a Maple Leafs GM.

And for an hour or so on Thursday, it was. Until it wasn’t.

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At 11:31 ET, some 29 minutes before Treliving and team president Brendan Shanahan were scheduled to address the media at Scotiabank Arena, the Pittsburgh Penguins issued a release announcing Dubas as president of hockey operations. Yep. That same Dubas. The release noted that Dubas and members of the Fenway Sports Group would hold their own press conference in Pittsburgh at 1 p.m., one hour after Treliving’s meeting with the media.

Was it just a coincidence that all this took place on the same day? Was this a chance for Dubas and the Penguins to upstage his former team?

Shanahan quickly rejected that notion, trying to calm the conspiracy theorists who thought something fishy was going on regarding the scheduling.

“I don’t think it was intentional timing,” he said. “They need to get to work as well.

“I fully endorse Kyle.”

Maybe Shanahan doesn’t believe the timing was intentional. But it certainly was intriguing. And it was almost as if the day progressed as dictated from the pages of a movie script.

Indeed, the Maple Leafs and Penguins will be connected by the common thread that is Dubas.

It certainly makes for a fascinating tale of two franchises.

Dubas, 37, is one of the sharpest young hockey minds in the game. The Maple Leafs, under his watch, went 221-109-42 in the regular season but won one Stanley Cup Playoff series in that span despite featuring uber-talented players like forwards Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares, and defenseman Morgan Rielly. 

Video: Penguins name Dubas president of hockey operations

Dubas was in the final season of his contract in 2022-23. It was the Maple Leafs’ decision not to give him a new contract last offseason. 

According to Shanahan, the decision had been made to bring back Dubas, even after the Maple Leafs were eliminated by the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Second Round on May 12. A contract offer had been presented to Dubas prior to the Maple Leafs locker cleanout day three days later, he said. But when Dubas addressed the media that day, he lamented how difficult the season had been on his family and how he had to discuss with his loved ones whether he needed time to recalibrate.

Dubas said that regardless of what decision he’d make regarding a return to the Maple Leafs, “You won’t see me next week pop up elsewhere. I can’t put [my family] through that after this year.” 

He was right. He didn’t pop up the next week; it was actually closer to two weeks that he surfaced in Pittsburgh.

To be fair, he said it was his wife, Shannon, who prodded him to explore the Penguins situation. It was, in the end, a partial family decision.

At the same time, in his new role he gets the power he coveted in Toronto. With Shanahan in place, that was never going to happen with the Maple Leafs. And when Shanahan received a counteroffer from Dubas’ agent with a revised financial package, which is a synonym for “more money,” Shanahan cut the cord.

You can’t make this up. It truly is the stuff of soap operas.

And where it goes from here is can’t-miss TV.

Both teams are star-studded. That’s where the similarities end.

Treliving didn’t come out and say it, but he seemed to hint that the so-called “Core Four” of Matthews, Marner, Nylander and Tavares could stay intact. Though skill has a lot to do with that, so does age. Matthews is 25, Marner 26, Nylander 27. You could say their best years could be ahead of them.

The same can’t be said for the core Dubas inherits. Forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and defenseman Kris Letang will each be at least 36 when next season starts. At the same time, the championship pedigree of the three future Hall of Famers who have helped the Penguins win three Stanley Cup championships can’t be questioned.

Treliving is somewhat shackled under the NHL salary cap because the Core Four gobble up more than $40 million of the space under it. Dubas has far more flexibility; indeed, he mentioned the Penguins will have around $20 million of cap space to play with.

Then there are the coaching situations. Pittsburgh’s Mike Sullivan was the coach of the Penguins’ 2016 and 2017 Cup title teams and can coach “forever,” according to Dubas. There is more uncertainty for Treliving, who said he’ll meet with Maple Leafs incumbent Sheldon Keefe and try to learn more about him before determining his future. Keefe, by the way, also coached under Dubas in two other leagues: the Ontario Hockey League with Sault St. Marie and the American Hockey League with the Toronto Marlies.

So many plots. So many storylines.

All that remains to set the stage for this juicy narrative is for the 2023-24 schedule to be released in the next couple of months. Because any games between Treliving’s Maple Leafs and Dubas’ Penguins need to be circled on the calendar for obvious reasons, no matter how both men might try to downplay them.

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