The Denver Nuggets awoke today to a snowy landscape of sub-zero temperatures…and then they remembered their schedule was accelerated by about five and a half hours. Today is a classic, wacky Sunday matinee game as the NBA vies to grab as many eyeballs as possible before the NFL playoffs get going later in the afternoon. For the Nuggets that means welcoming in the Indiana Pacers for a 1:30 PM contest. The Pacers are one of the teams on the rise in the Eastern Conference this season. After being the first team on the outside looking in for the postseason last year, this season Indiana is firmly in the mix and may avoid the play-in tournament altogether. They are led by star point guard Tyrese Haliburton but he will be sidelined today with a hamstring injury. In his wake Indiana has used a team oriented approach that is reminiscent of the 2012-2013 Nuggets. A team full of very solid players but without Haliburton no one player you can point to as a star. Indiana is as hot as any team coming into this game as winners of nine of their last ten including the last two without Tyrese.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (27-13) vs Indiana Pacers (23-15)

When: 1:30 PM MST

Where: The Can. Denver, CO.

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy….unless it’s the romanticized 18th century type. Altitude TV where available (Altitude TV is available on DirecTV, DirecTV Stream & Fubo TV). NBA League pass for those not in the Nuggets market. Altitude Radio 950AM. Show up in your skivvies and hope security takes pity on you (disclaimer: doing this may cause you to get frostbite and die of hypothermia, attempt at your own risk).

Rival blog: Indy Cornrows

The Matchup

Position Nuggets Pacers Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Andrew Nembhard Nuggets
SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Bruce Brown Even
SF Michael Porter Jr. Bennedict Mathurin Nuggets
PF Aaron Gordon Jalen Smith Nuggets
C Nikola Jokic Myles Turner Nuggets
Bench Reggie Jackson, Justin Holiday, Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, DeAndre Jordan Obi Toppin, Isaiah Jackson, T.J. McConnell, Buddy Hield, Even


Injury report: Peyton Watson – probable (illness), Christian Braun – probable (ankle), Julian Strawther – out (knee), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee), Jalen Pickett – out (G-League), Hunter Tyson – out (G-League); Tyrese Haliburton – out (hamstring), Aaron Nesmith – out (shin), Jarace Walker – out (infection), Oscar Tshiebwe – out (G-League), Kendall Brown – out (G-League), Isaiah Wong – out (G-League)

The Three Things

The thing to watch for: Nikola Jokic vs Indiana’s bigs

Nov 9, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) dribbles the ball while Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) defends in the second half at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Pacers are starting Myles Turner and Jalen Smith but they don’t bring any size of note off the bench other than 6’9″ Obi Toppin so expect both Turner and Smith to get their shot at Nikola Jokic. Turner is an excellent shot blocker and a presence in the paint but Nikola long ago figured out how to attack him and has several thirty point performances against him.  Smith meanwhile has really found his stride in Indiana as a reserve big after being relegated to the end of the bench at the beginning of his career in Phoenix. Like Toppin he’s a bit undersized in comparison to Nikola but like Turner he’s another solid rim protector. This means Indiana can roll out the double defensive big combo which sometimes does yield some success in slowing down Joker. Hopefully Jokic had his Wheaties this morning.

The thing to remember: ring day for Brucey B

The Nuggets will welcome back Bruce Brown to Ball Arena today. After being a pivotal part of the rotation in Denver’s championship run, Brown got the proverbial bag from Indiana and thus spent only one memorable year in Denver, but what a year it was. Bruce will always be a part of Nuggets lore because of what he did for the team last year and I don’t think there’s ever been a player more beloved who left the Nuggets for the sole purpose of more money. Everyone recognizes what Bruce helped us accomplish and how he 100% earned that payday. I’ll be in attendance to cheer loudly for him as he gets his ring and then hope he has a terrible day after that on the court.

The thing to bet: Bruce Brown over 0.5 three pointers (-120)

So, in general I would say the thing to bet today is nothing. I avoid day games like the plague when it comes to sports wagers. Too much variance. Guys schedules are all out of whack and it’s impossible to gauge who can handle a 1:30 PM tip in stride and who will still be sleep walking. That said, it’s Bruce’s big ring day and the Pacers don’t have their leading scorer. I expect Bruce to be extra focused against his former team and for a guy who makes one three pointer on average I like my chances of him getting one today. This bet is so good in fact that it shifted from -110 to -115 to -120 as I was writing this.