The daily preview muscles into the paint with NBA tips for a clash between Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets as the league prepares to head into the All-Star break.
12:00 (AEDT), Fri 5th Mar @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse
History: Played 92: Pacers 46 V Nuggets 46
Last meeting: January 19, 2020: Pacers 115 d Nuggets 107 at Pepsi Center
Final Thoughts: Indiana Pacers are striving to climb up the Eastern Conference’s midtable logjam, but a hot Denver Nuggets outfit stands in their way in the teams’ last assignment before the NBA All-Star break.
The 16-18 Pacers sit ninth in the East. After a frustrating four-game slide, they edged out the Cavaliers 114-111 in Cleveland yesterday.
Malcolm Brogdon scored 29 points on 12-for-15 shooting. TJ McConnell (16 pts, 13 ast, 10 stl) chalked up a super-rare 10-steal triple-double – the NBA’s first since 1998. Domantas Sabonis was a late inclusion as he battled a foot injury, but he contributed 18 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists.
Indiana have found themselves in the bottom-third of the NBA offensively and defensively over the past couple of weeks. Mid-season trade acquisition Caris LeVert is yet to make his Pacers debut.
Nuggets hit golden patch of form
The 20-15 Nuggets had a shaky end to February but have won three in a row on the road. Nikola Jokic (37 points, 10 reb, 11 ast) outshone Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee two days ago with a dominant showing in a 128-97 blowout of the big-shot Bucks. Jamal Murray (24 pts, 6 ast) also chipped in impressively, while PJ Dozier scored 19 points off the bench.
Denver are ranked fourth for points per game and 10th in the league for points conceded.
The Pacers-Nuggets ledger is all square after 92 encounters. The Nuggets have won 13 of the last 18 clashes but the last three season series have been shared. Michael Porter Jr (25 pts) top-scored off the bench as the Nuggets grabbed a 124-115 win in Indianapolis last season.
It’s a vital game for the Pacers – who are just 7-10 at home – before heading out on another lengthy roadstand. But I can’t see them negating Jokic’s influence enough to topple the Nuggets, who boast an 11-8 away record.
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