Oshae Brissett
(NBAE/Getty Images)

Game Preview: Pacers at Nuggets

Friday, Jan. 20 at 9:00 PM ET at Ball Arena

Game Preview

To stop a five-game skid, the Indiana Pacers will need to beat the No. 1 team in the Western Conference at their place.

The Pacers (23-23) can avenge an early-season loss to the Denver Nuggets (32-13) at Ball Arena on Friday night in The Mile High City.

Both teams are streaking, but in opposite directions: the Nuggets are riding eight straight victories while the Pacers have dropped five in a row.

Indiana comes into the game off a 126-106 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. The current losing streak is the longest of the season for the Blue & Gold.

Six Pacers – including four off the bench – scored in double figures against the Thunder, led by 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds from rookie Andrew Nembhard.

Over the last five games,  the Pacers are averaging 112 points per game on 43 percent shooting (32.7 percent from 3-point range) while having a defensive rating of 119.0.

The Pacers were without star point guard Tyrese Haliburton against the Thunder, who has been sidelined since suffering a knee and elbow sprain against the New York Knicks on Jan. 11. Haliburton will not be available against the Nuggets, as he is expected to miss at least two weeks.

Since Halibuton went down, the Pacers haven’t won a game.

Denver enters the game having won 11 of their last 12 games. The Nuggets have been nearly unstoppable at home this season, boasting a 21-3 record – and have won 15 in a row at Ball Arena.

The Nuggets have been led by another stellar season from reigning two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, who is averaging 25 points on 62.7 percent shooting, 11 rebounds and 9.8 assists per game at the center position.

In his return from injury this year, point guard Jamal Murray has been the second-highest scorer on the Nuggets at 18.5 points per game to go along with 5.4 assists while forwards Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. are each averaging just over 16 points per game.

The Nuggets have the highest field goal percentage of any NBA team this season (50.9 percent), as well as 3-point percentage (39.8),  and also rank second in assists per game (29.3). On defense, the Nuggets are giving up 113.1 points per game.

Over the last eight games, the Nuggets are averaging 121.1 points per game on 51.6 percent shooting (39.3 percent 3-point range), an NBA-high 28.8 asissts and have an overall  +/- of 14.3.

Denver comes into the game against the Pacers with a 122-118 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at home on Wednesday.

In the victory, Jokic had 31 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds — his 14th triple-double of the season – while Murray poured in 28 points and Bruce Brown scored16 off the bench.

The Nuggets eked out a 122-119 win over the Pacers on Nov. 9.

Projected Starters

Pacers: G - Andrew Nembhard,  G - Bennedict Mathurin, F - Buddy Hield, F - Aaron Nesmith, C - Myles Turner

Nuggets: G - Jamal Murray,  G - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, F - Michael Porter Jr., F - Aaron Gordon, C - Nikola Jokic

Injury Report

Pacers: Kendall Brown - out (right tibia stress reaction), Tyrese Haliburton - out (left knee/elbow sprains), Daniel Theis - out (right knee surgery)

Nuggets: Jamal Murray - probable (right foot and ankle inflammation), Jeff Green  - questionable (left finger sprain/hand fracture), Collin Gillespie - out (right lower leg fracture), Peyton Watson - out (left adductor strain)

Last Meeting

Nov. 9, 2022:  Despite a 30-point performance by rookie Bennedict Mathurin, and getting Nikola Jokic into foul trouble early, the Pacers lost to the Nuggets 122-119 in Indianapolis.

After the Nuggets took an eight-point lead in the first quarter, the Pacers outscored the visitors 43-21 in the second to lead 70-56 at intermission. Mathurin scored 18 of his 30 points in the second frame.

The Nuggets didn’t retake the lead until there was 6:37 left in the game, but the Pacers retied it with 55 seconds remaining.

In the final 30 seconds, Jokic hit a jumper before Jamal Murray sank a pair of free throws to make it a two-possession game. The Pacers had a chance to tie the game before the buzzer after a Tyrese Halliburton make just inside the 3-point line, but the final shot didn’t go in from Myles Turner.

Six players finished in double figure scoring for the Nuggets. Jokic had four fouls by the second quarter, but still finished with 24 points, six assists and four rebounds in just 20 minutes, 42 seconds of play.  Aaron Gordon was next for the Nuggets with 18 points, 16 rebounds and six assists.

After Mathurin, Haliburton had 21 points and 11 assists, Turner scored 14 while pulling down 11 rebounds and Isaiah Jackson collected 17 points and 10 boards.

A major difference  in the final boxscore was at the foul line, as the Nuggets made 24 of 26 attempts while the Pacers went 15-for-19.

Noteworthy
  • Jokic, who was drafted by the Nuggets in 2014,  has recorded a triple-double against every NBA team except the Pacers and the Wizards.
  • Denver’s 15 straight wins at home is their longest home winning streak since the 2012-13 season (23).
  • Friday’s game will complete the season series between the Pacers and Nuggets. The Nuggets have won five straight against the Blue & Gold.
Broadcast Information (TV and Radio Listings >>)

TV: Bally Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)

Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (studio host)

Tickets

After a four-game road trip, the Pacers will be back at Gainbridge Fieldhouse to host DeMar DeRozan and the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>