The Denver Nuggets are currently on an international business trip in London for the NBA Global Games, and square off this afternoon against Paul George and the Indiana Pacers. With it being their only game this week, there has been a lot of activities on the team’s docket as they help represent the league across the pond, including participating in an NBA Cares project and visiting the training center for Arsenal F.C., the Kroenke’s majority-interest Premier League club.
But lost in the excitement this week is the fact that Denver is a severely flawed team that is trending in the wrong direction. Along with their passports, the Nuggets have brought some extra baggage with them to London in the form of a five-game losing streak as a result of the worst defense in the league. Indiana, on the other hand, is on a different kind of streak foreign to this Denver franchise, as the Pacers have won their last five games and will look to continue their success against Denver.
The Nuggets could be without key starters in Gary Harris and Danilo Gallinari as well as Kenneth Faried off of the bench, which would only make winning more difficult. It will be a sold out crowd at the O2, and with four European players on the roster (and none on Indiana’s) one would expect it to be a very pro-Denver crowd. Let’s hope that Denver takes advantage of this event and that these dedicated international fans get their money’s worth with the first Nuggets’ victory of 2017.
Who: Indiana Pacers (20-18) at Denver Nuggets (14-23)
When: 1:00 P.M. MST
Where: The O2, London, United Kingdom
How to watch: NBA TV, Altitude TV
Rival blog: Indy Cornrows
|PG||Emmanuel Mudiay||Jeff Teague||Pacers|
|SG||Gary Harris||Glenn Robinson||Nuggets|
|SF||Danilo Gallinari||Paul George||Pacers|
|PF||Darrell Arthur||Thaddeus Young||Even|
|C||Nikola Jokic||Myles Turner||Nuggets|
|Bench||Jameer Nelson, Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, Jusuf Nurkic||Monta Ellis, CJ Miles, Al Jefferson, Kevin Seraphin, Aaron Brooks||Even|
Injury Report: Nikola Jokic - probable (illness); Gary Harris - questionable (groin), Danilo Gallinari - questionable (ankle), Kenneth Faried - questionable (illness)
What to watch for: Euro stars
Is it a cop-out if I think my answer to this should just be Nikola Jokic every time? Jokic sat out last Saturday’s game against the Thunder, meaning it’s been an entire week since we’ve been able to bask in the beauty of his play. I miss it. It will be fun to watch him, Jusuf Nurkic, Juancho Hernangomez and hopefully Danilo Gallinari play so close to home with native fans in attendance. Nurk has seen his minutes increase as of late off the bench, and if Gallo doesn’t play (which would be very unfortunate), Juancho should get some decent burn as well after his strong play in the D-League. Should be a fun game and a fun atmosphere.
Key Stat: 123.8
On the Nuggets current five-game losing streak, they have given up on average 123.8 points per game. This of course is a terrible number and is by far the worst the in league during that span. The Pacers aren’t an offensive juggernaut by any means but do average 105.8 points per game, and with a very capable scorer in Paul George on the floor it could get ugly. There are a myriad of problems with Denver’s defense, but if the Nuggets want to win they’ll have to actually play on that end of the floor.
Opening thought: Will this finally be the turning point of the season?
This is like beating a dead horse now. The Nuggets win a few games, look flashy, then things fall apart. They play tonight on several days’ rest and with the flair of the global games atmosphere, it’s easy to see how a win in London could be a turning point for this team if the goal is to still make the playoffs. It won’t be easy though - Denver has a pretty tough schedule between now and the All-Star break, including five back-to-backs. There are still plenty of games left to play, but realistically this next month will determine the fate of this team, whether for good or for bad.