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Preview: Friday Night Hoops, Denver Nuggets vs Indiana Pacers

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Fresh off a huge win against the Cavaliers, the Nuggets head to Indiana to hopefully show Paul George that he was wrong about Denver.

Gary Harris guards Paul George.

After a couple of tough games against the Houston Rockets, the Nuggets beat the Cavaliers in epic fashion on Wednesday giving everyone hope (once again) that they just might hang in there for a post-season appearance. Time and again the Nuggets prove that the effort they put forth on defense pays dividends and sets them up for a shot at a win.

Tonight they travel to Indiana to face Paul George and the Pacers for the first time since the London game in January where the Nuggets beat the Pacers 140-112. This game may bring some awkwardness given that the Nuggets were turned down on a “monster” trade offer they made for Paul George right before the trade deadline last month.

Once the deadline passed, George said that even if he had been traded to Denver he would never have stayed because while he respects what Denver is doing, he doesn’t believe they are on the path to the Finals. After that comment, we all want to see the Nuggets show George what kind of path they’re on and give the Pacers another smack down.

The Basics:

Who: Denver Nuggets (34-37) vs Indiana Pacers (36-35)

When: 5:00 PM MST

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

How to watch: Altitude, 950 AM

Rival blog: Indy Cornrows

Position Nuggets Pacers Advantage
PG Jameer Nelson Jeff Teague Pacers
SG Gary Harris CJ Miles Nuggets
SF Wilson Chandler Paul George Pacers
PF Mason Plumlee Thaddeus Young Even
C Nikola Jokic Myles Turner Nuggets
Bench Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Juancho Hernangomez, Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, Roy Hibbert, Emmanuel Mudiay, Mike Miller, Malik Beasley, Danilo Gallinari Monta Ellis, Lavoy Allen, Aaron Brooks, Al Jefferson, Glenn Robinson III, Rakeem Christmas, Kevin Seraphin, Rodney Stuckey Even

Injury Report: Danilo Gallinari - questionable (knee bone bruise)

Key Stat: 115.5 & 96.6- In the month of March the Nuggets are averaging 115.5 points per game while the Pacers are bringing in around 96.6. The Nuggets have the best offense in the NBA so if they’re able to bring a smidgen of defense against the Pacers tonight they have a good chance at holding them to under 100 points, and capturing the win.

Three things to watch:

1. Who is making cuts to get open? The players who lead in this effort typically end up as the leading scorers of the night. The Nuggets have developed a very unselfish style of offense and the ball sharing just gets better and better as more players learn how to find each other open. As long as the offense is moving the Nuggets will be scoring.

2. How does the game begin? If the Nuggets can get off to a good start and take control in the first quarter it’s often a predictor of the game outcome. This is largely a product of good defense out of the gate, or not. Jameer Nelson struggles mightily on defense so Coach Malone may need to give Jamal Murray more minutes to keep Jeff Teague under control. Given that Indiana is averaging under 100 points per game this month, a little bit of defense should go a long way.

3. Offensive rebounds. The Nuggets have a terrible habit of giving up second chance points by neglecting the offensive glass. They make matters worse when no one moves on offense and players begin to shoot from the three-point line with a full shot clock without even looking to see who they can pass to—ahem—Will Barton. Yes, a couple of players need to be ready to get back on D quickly, but an attempt to get an offensive rebound would be nice.