The daily NBA preview takes it to the rim with tips for a showdown between Championship smokies the Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers.
12:00 (AEDT), Mon 19th Jan @ Pepsi Center, Denver
History: Played 91: Nuggets 46 V Pacers 45
Last meeting: January 2, 2020: Nuggets 124 d Pacers 116 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Final Thoughts: The Indiana Pacers will be looking to capitalise on the Denver Nuggets’ injury problems when the two in-form sides square off in Mile High City.
The 29-12 Nuggets sit second in the Western Conference after winning 14 of their last 18. They are currently on a three-game winning run after beating the Clippers and Hornets at home by double-digit margins, then edging the Warriors in OT on the road.
But Jamal Murray has been ruled out indefinitely. Meanwhile, Paul Millsap’s absence is set to extend to a sixth game. The injuries will increase the responsibility on talisman Nikola Jokic. The big man has increased his output to 19.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game after a slow start to the season.
The 27-15 Pacers have emerged from a rocky Xmas/New Year’s period to win their last four games. After putting away the Bulls in Chicago (116-105) and the Sixers at home (101-95), they beat the Timberwolves in Minneapolis and Indianapolis by small margins.
Victor Oladipo’s long-awaited return will not happen for another couple of weeks. But the likes of TJ Warren, Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis have put the Pacers in a strong position ahead of the All-Star’s injection.
The Nuggets have won 13 of their last 17 against the Pacers, including a 124-116 victory in Indianapolis earlier this month.
Murray (22 pts, 5 reb, 7 ast) and Will Barton (14 pts, 10 reb, 5 ast) stacked their statlines for the Nuggets. Michael Porter Jr (25 pts) top-scored off the bench. Jeremy Lamb’s 30 points were to no avail for the Pacers.
The Nuggets are a muscular 17-5 at home this season. The Pacers are 10-10 on the road. Despite their injuries, the Nuggets’ depth, Jokic’s class and their home dominance should be too much for the visitors.
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