The Denver Nuggets look to continue their home winning streak against a struggling Indiana Pacers team. This will be a tough one for the mile-high crew as they will be without their leader Nikola Jokic due to a one-game suspension for his flagrant foul versus Miami. It offers Jokic some much-needed rest but it places Denver in a very precarious spot in this game. Indiana has a fantastic combination of bigs with the All-Star Sabonis and an elite defensive player in Miles Turner.
The Pacers do struggle on the road. They are 1-5 this year so Denver will have to capitalize on their momentum swings and play to the crowd. Indiana is a better team than their record suggests. They have talent throughout their lineup and a bright rookie Chris Duarte who Denver thought highly of during the draft. The Pacers put up almost 110 points per game this year, so Denver will either need to bring that stifling defense or finally find an answer from three if they want to keep pace.
Who: Denver Nuggets (6-4, 4-1 home) vs Indiana Pacers (4-7, 1-5 away)
When: 7:00 p.m. MST
Where: Ball Arena
How to watch/listen: NBA League Pass, Altitude TV (If you’re lucky enough) or 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio
Rival Blog: Indy Cornrows
Expected Starting Lineups:
IND: PG TJ McConnell, SG Chris Duarte, SF Caris LeVert, PF Domantas Sabonis, C Miles Turner
DEN: PG Monte Morris, SG Will Barton, SF PJ Dozier, PF Aaron Gordon C Jeff Green
Injuries: Vlatko Čančar (out), Michael Porter Jr. (out), TJ Warren (out), Malcolm Brogdon (day to day)
Three Things to Watch
Who steps up in the absence of Jokic?
It will have to be a collection of guys but there will need to be one piece that Denver can rely upon tonight. In my opinion, that will be Will Barton as he had played fantastic this season. I would not be surprised if we see a 30-point game out of him tonight because he will turn into a volume scorer with all the opportunities he will have. I would also like to see a little Monte explosion tonight. He played well against the Heat shooting 6-11 from the field resulting in 14 points, but he has a 20 point game in him and tonight could be the night.
This might be what wins or loses the game for Denver. Losing Jokic is a huge blow to their inside presence so there needs to be gang rebounding. Everybody needs to be active on the glass including the guards because Indiana’s bigs will have a field day if they’re offered free reign inside. Both of the Greens need to box out effectively and PJ and Will need to swoop in for some aggressive rebounds. Denver will have to limit Indiana’s second chance scoring because Sabonis does not quit on the boards and he gets sneaky good position inside.
Denver needs to be sound with their fundamentals tonight. They need to take care of the basketball on the offensive end but also force some turnovers defensively. The Pacers will turn the basketball over, in fact, they average 16.5 turnovers a game which is tied for third-worst in the NBA. On the other hand, the Pacers have their own version of Facu in TJ McConnell but he can score and is a pest defensively. He once had a triple-double with 10 steals, so Denver needs to know where he is on the court at all times or he will cause havoc.