Preview: Denver Nuggets look to extend winning streak vs. Pacers

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyroNBA

Coming off perhaps their most impressive win of the season, the Denver Nuggets continue their homestand Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers.

Denver (6-4) comfortably defeated the surging Miami Heat Monday night, using lockdown defense and a balanced scoring attack to fuel the 113-96 victory. Will Barton continued his hot start to the season, dropping 25 points against Miami while knocking down seven 3-pointers, which tied a career-high.

MORE: Takeaways from win over Miami

Indiana (4-7) has had an up-and-down start to the season that has been marked with several injuries to key players. Despite their record, the Pacers are certainly a competitive team, posting a positive +0.4 net rating on the year, with most of that success coming on the offensive end as Indiana owns the 10th-ranked offensive rating.

Let’s take a look at some keys to Wednesday’s contest.

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INJURY REPORT:

JAMAL MURRAY – LEFT KNEE INJURY RECOVERY. OUT.

VLATKO ČANČAR – LEFT HIP STRAIN. OUT.

MICHAEL PORTER JR. – LOW BACK PAIN. OUT.

MONTE MORRIS – LEFT PATELLAR TENDINOPATHY. PROBABLE.

TUNE-IN: 7 p.m. MT, Altitude TV and 92.5FM

Winning the turnover battle

Indiana and Denver have had fairly contrasting starts to the season, with the Nuggets relying on defense to win games while the Pacers have had more success on the offensive end of the floor.

However, an area the two teams share a similarity is taking care of the ball on offense. Denver ranks 24th in turnover percentage, coughing it up on 16 percent of its possessions this season. Meanwhile, the Pacers are struggling even more in that regard, ranking 25th in turnover percentage.

The difference will likely come on the defensive end, where the Nuggets have had more success generating turnovers, ranking 11th in opponent turnover percentage, while Indiana ranks 20th.

Attack the basket

Indiana’s defense has been effective in limiting 3-point attempts this season, with opponents only taking 32.9 percent of their shot attempts from deep against the Pacers. However, this has opened up driving lanes to the rim, and as a result, Indiana ranks 19th in opponent frequency of shots coming within four feet of the basket.

For a Nuggets team that has thrived around the rim this season, that should be music to their ears. Denver is tied for second in the league at 70.4 percent shooting around the basket, although facing one of the league’s best rim protectors in Myles Turner will certainly provide a challenge to the Nuggets’ offense.

Get out in transition

One major shift this season for Denver has been the increase in transition play. The Nuggets are looking to push the pace in advantage situations, ranking second in the league in the frequency of possessions beginning with a transition play. Denver also ranks fourth in the league in fast break points per game, averaging 15.5 per contest.

Indiana does not rely on transition opportunities to generate a significant amount of offense, ranking 22nd in fast break points per game and 29th in the frequency of possessions beginning in transition. If Denver can force a healthy number of turnovers and take advantage in transition, it could prove to be the difference in Wednesday’s contest.

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