After an embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers the Denver Nuggets have righted the ship and now have three straight wins. They can make it four tonight while also completing the season sweep if they can beat a good Indiana Pacers team. Not only will the Nuggets have to beat a quality opponent, they’ll also need to continue to overcome a litany of injuries.

Beyond the Pacers being good, they’re also on a roll like the Nuggets. Indiana has won four straight coming into tonight. Like the Nuggets they’ve allowed some less quality teams make the games closer than they needed to be but ultimately still have come away with victory. Luckily for Denver, the Pacers star guard Victor Oladipo remains out for another week or so but Indiana is still no slouch. T.J. Warren, Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon (who was out the last time these two teams played) make up an impressive trio that’s bolstered with quality, young, veteran depth.

The Basics

Who: Indiana Pacers (27-15) at Denver Nuggets (29-12)

When: 6:00 PM MST

Where: The Can. Denver, CO.

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV and KKSE Altitude Radio 92.5 FM

Rival blog: Indy Cornrows

Position Denver Nuggets Utah Jazz Advantage
PG Monte Morris Mike Conley Jazz
SG Torrey Craig Donovan Mitchell Jazz
SF Michael Porter Jr. Royce O'Neale Nuggets
PF Paul Millsap Joe Ingles Even
C Nikola Jokic Rudy Gobert Nuggets
Bench PJ Dozier, Keita Bates-Diop, Jerami Grant, Bol Bol, Mason Plumlee Emmanuel Mudiay, Jordan Clarkson, Georges Niang, Tony Bradley Even

Injured players: Jamal Murray – out (ankle), Gary Harris – out (adductor), Paul Millsap – out (knee), Bol Bol – out (foot), Jeremy Lamb – questionable (hip), Victor Oladipo – out (knee)

Key matchup: Jerami Grant vs Domantas Sabonis

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It’ll be interesting to see how Michael Malone approaches the large Pacers front court with no Paul Millsap available. Grant has been the starter in Millsap’s absence but it might make sense to go with Mason Plumlee instead to match size for size. Either way, there’s a good chance that Grant is going to see his fair share of Sabonis and that’s a matchup advantage for Indiana. Jerami gives up three inches and thirty pounds to his former teammate so size alone is a major factor. The other factor of course is that Sabonis is really good. An excellent combination of strength and skill, the Gonzaga product is averaging an impressive double double (nearly 18 pts and 13 rebs) while handing out over 4 assists a game as well.

Key thing to watch for: Michael. Porter. Jr.

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If you’ll remember, it was the Pacers who MPJ announced he had arrived against. That was the game he went 11 of 12 for twenty-five points and carried the Nuggets to a win. If Malone elects to go with Plumlee in the starting lineup, then it might also make sense to slide Will Barton over to shooting guard and start Porter Jr. instead of going with Torrey Craig. Mike gives the Nuggets that extra scoring threat that they could need greatly tonight with so many injuries. He struggled in the immediate aftermath of that break out performance in Indianapolis but has scored in double figures three straight games now on increasingly more minutes.

Opening thought: no excuses

The Nuggets are facing the injury bug really for the first time this season and thus far they’ve been able to overcome it. They’ve also played the Charlotte Hornets and Golden State Warriors this week so take it with a grain of salt. Tonight they’ll be tested and guys are going to need to step up. Despite having a very strong start to the season record wise (on pace for a franchise record in wins in fact) the Nuggets remain just a half game up on the Utah Jazz and only a handful of games up on the sixth seeded Houston Rockets. Halfway through the season the Nuggets have done what they were supposed to and taken advantage of good health and favorable schedules. Things are starting to get tougher with injuries piling up but none of their competition will feel sorry for them. Home games against quality opponents are ones you need to win, three starters out or not.