The Denver Nuggets are coming off one of their better wins of the season. Despite the Washington Wizards having a disappointing season, they still make for a formidable opponent on the road. Especially when that road match up is the second night of a back to back and Denver gave a full 48 minutes of effort to steal a victory. Now, the Nuggets will look to close out their short road trip to the east with a win over the Indiana Pacers. A win would give Denver a 2-1 record on the jaunt and pull them within three games of the final playoff position in the Western Conference
The Pacers faced a similar conundrum and similar result as the Wizards this season. They looked to move away from their traditional half-court, inside-out, big man based offense in favor of the in vogue small line up and pace and space. Just like the Wizards, that transition for the Pacers was met with mixed results and they have reverted back to their old ways. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as Indiana has been bolstered by the play of rookie big man Myles Turner. Of course when talking about the Pacers, Paul George has to be mentioned. After missing virtually the entire season last year following a gruesome leg injury, George has picked up right where he left off, averaging a career high in points (23.6 per game).
The rest of the Pacers lineup is comprised of a smattering of journeymen veterans with a little youth infusion. The team signed Monta Ellis, the score first combo guard, in the off season and pair him in the backcourt with George Hill who has recently returned to health. The bench is bolstered with the resurgent C.J. Miles and veteran big man Jordan Hill. The Nuggets bench has struggled of late and they will need to play better to keep up with Indiana.
Who: Denver Nuggets (18-29) at Indiana Pacers (24-22)
When: 5PM MST
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis IN
How To Watch/Listen: Altitude TV and KRWZ AM 950
Rival Blog: Indy Cornrows
|SF||Paul George||Danilo Gallinari||Pacers|
|PF||Myles Turner||Kenneth Faried||Even|
|Bench||Will Barton, Jusuf Nurkic, Randy Foye, Joffrey Lauvergne, Mike Miller, Darrell Arthur, Sean Kilpatrick, J.J. Hickson, Jameer Nelson||Even|
Injured players: Joffrey Lauvergne - Questionable (toe), Wilson Chandler - Out (hip), Rodney Stuckey - Out (ankle)
Key match up: Paul George vs Danilo Gallinari
I give the edge to George in this match up but only slightly. Gallinari has been one of the underrated players in the Association this season and is having his best year as a pro. The one drawback to Gallo this season is his defense has fallen off a bit. However, when faced with a marquee match up he usually performs well on both ends of the court. The Nuggets will need to support Gallo on the offensive end because he's going to have his hands full covering the prolific George on defense. On the bright side the same can be said of the Pacers and containing Gallo.
Key match up numero dos: Myles Turner vs Nikola Jokic
While Mahinmi starts at center for the Pacers, we should get to see the two rookie big men go toe to toe for a good portion of the game. Turner was slowed earlier by an injury but has recently been inserted into the starting lineup. He responded by putting up 20 points and 6 boards in 26 minutes against the Hawks. That's nothing to sneeze at but its not quite as impressive as 15 points and 10 boards in 18 minutes like Jokic recently did against Atlanta. Turner looks primed to be the breakout rookie of the second half of the season, a title that could easily be bestowed on Jokic for the first half of the season (though there is that Kristaps guy).
Speed kills: Hill and Ellis aren't exactly John Wall or Jeff Teague and they don't have the flat out blazing speed of Dennis Schroder, but they're not Derek Fisher in his Thunder years either. In the past two games the Nuggets have been getting abused by quick guards getting into the paint for easy looks. Some of this has to do with the limited amount of minutes big man Jusuf Nurkic has been playing as Denver really has no other imposing presence on defense (though Bradley Beal might still be having nightmares about the Manimal). The second factor of the equation is once Denver goes to its bench they lose any modicum of athleticism or quickness in their back court.
Prediction: The Nuggets are closing out the road trip with their third game in four nights and the Pacers will prove to be too much at home, Indiana wins 101-94