Game Preview: Nuggets Wrap Up Home Stand Against Indiana Pacers
So far, so good for the Denver Nuggets during their three-game home stand. After comfortably defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday, Denver used strong fourth quarter defense and a buzzer-beating shot from Nikola Jokic to escape with a win over the Dallas Mavericks Thursday.
Now Denver will look to sweep the home stand with a win over the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers (44-25) come into tonight’s game on a two-game winning streak but have struggled to consistently string together wins in recent weeks. Indiana is just 5-5 in its last ten games and has lost its last four road games. Of course, the main storyline surrounding the Pacers this season has been the unfortunate injury to Victor Oladipo, who suffered a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee on Jan. 23rd.
However, the Pacers have been resilient without their best player, going 12-10 since Oladipo was lost for the season. Bojan Bogdanović has stepped up for Indiana, as he is averaging 23.3 points per game since the All-Star break. During this stretch, Bogdanović has knocked down 43.3 percent of his 3-pointers, so Denver will have to lock in on him defensively.
For the Nuggets (45-22), this game will serve as a good test for where the team is at this point in the regular season. The Pacers are the third seed in the Eastern Conference and own the league’s second-ranked defense. This is Denver’s last home game before they head out on a four-game road trip next week.
This is the first matchup between the two teams this season. While the teams split the series last season, Denver is 4-2 against Indiana since Michael Malone took over as head coach. The Nuggets have won nine consecutive home games over the Pacers.
Here are some keys to the game:
Winning the battle beyond the arc: Although the Pacers use their strong defense to win and the Nuggets rely more on their high-powered offense, the two teams do share a common trait: strong 3-point shooting. Denver ranks ninth in the league at 35.7 percent, while the Pacers are fifth at 37.4 percent. However, the difference is in the volume of attempts, as Denver averages nearly six more 3-point attempts per game. If Denver can win the battle from three, it may go a long way in deciding the game.
Attack the offensive glass: While Indiana’s defense will present a tough challenge for Denver, one area the Nuggets can exploit is on the offensive glass. Per Cleaning the Glass, Denver tops the league in offensive rebound percentage, while the Pacers are just 17thin opponent offensive rebound percentage. The Pacers allow opponents to rebound 26.4 percent of their misses, presenting a clear opportunity for Denver to use one of its strengths to gain an advantage.
Defend home court: As mentioned earlier, the Nuggets are about to embark on a four-game road trip. Therefore, it is important that they pick up all of the home wins that they can. Heading into a road trip on a three-game winning streak can do wonders for the team’s confidence and momentum down the stretch of the regular season. While Indiana is a strong team, they are by no means a great team away from home, owning a 17-16 road record this season. Meanwhile, Denver is 29-6 at the Pepsi Center this season.
Tonight’s game will tip-off at 7 p.m. MT. The game will air on Altitude TV and the AltitudeNOW app. Fans can listen on Altitude Radio, 92.5 FM.