Pacers at Nuggets

Game Preview: Pacers at Nuggets

Saturday, March 16, 2019 at 9:00 PM ET at Pepsi Center
by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor
@Wheat_Hotchkiss

Matchup

The Pacers head out West riding high after arguably their biggest win of the season. Paul George and the Thunder controlled most of Thursday night's game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, leading by as many as 19 points in the third quarter, but Indiana mounted a furious rally, pulling out a 108-106 win on Wesley Matthews' game-winning tip-in with 1.8 seconds remaining.

A number of players made keys plays down the stretch, from Matthews to Bojan Bogdanovic to Darren Collison, but coach Nate McMillan said "the play of the game" came from captain Thaddeus Young. The 11-year veteran was supposed to sub back in to the game with just under five minutes remaining, but with the young center duo of Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner playing well alongside each other, Young told McMillan to stick with the two 22-year-olds.

That anecdote is perhaps the best illustration of the togetherness of this team. Though they have no All-Stars with Victor Oladipo out for the year, they have been able to remain in position to secure homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs by creating a culture built on teamwork and trust.

Indiana (44-25) can officially clinch a playoff berth with a win on Saturday night in Denver.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: Track the Pacers' Playoff Push »

Saturday's game is the start of a very challenging, four-game road trip for the Pacers that features games against four of the likely eight playoff teams in the Western Conference. After taking on second-place Denver, the trip includes a back-to-back against Portland and the Los Angeles Clippers next week before concluding with a visit to the defending champion Warriors.

Like the Pacers, the Nuggets (45-22) are coming off a dramatic victory. Denver trailed 99-98 after rookie sensation Luka Doncic's go-ahead dunk with 5.8 seconds remaining on Thursday night, but All-Star center Nikola Jokic hit a one-handed floater at the buzzer to lift the Nuggets to a home win over the Mavericks.

That was just the latest chapter in the growing legend of the 7-footer from Serbia, who leads Denver in points (20.2 per game), rebounds (10.8), assists (7.6), and steals (1.4).

Projected Starters

Pacers: PG - Darren Collison, SG - Wesley Matthews, SF - Bojan Bogdanovic, PF - Thaddeus Young, C - Myles Turner
Nuggets: PG - Jamal Murray, SG - Gary Harris, SF - Will Barton, PF - Paul Millsap, C - Nikola Jokic

Injury Report

Pacers: Tyreke Evans - TBA (personal reasons), Victor Oladipo - out (right knee surgery)

Nuggets: Michael Porter Jr. – out (low back surgery), Trey Lyles – questionable (left hamstring strain), Torrey Craig – questionable (left shoulder strain)

Last Meeting

April 3, 2018: The Nuggets held off the Pacers in Denver, 107-104, to snap Indiana's five-game win streak.

Victor Oladipo led Indiana with 25 points, six rebounds, seven assists, and four steals in the loss. Thaddeus Young added 15 points and 10 rebounds, Darren Collison had 16 points and five assists, and Domantas Sabonis scored 14 points off the bench.

Nikola Jokic led Denver with 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting (including 4-of-6 from 3-point range) to go along with six boards, seven assists, and four steals. Will Barton added 26 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists.

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers have dropped nine straight "road" games against the Nuggets, including eight straight in Denver and a game in London on Jan. 12, 2017. Indiana has not won at the Pepsi Center since Nov. 27, 2007.
  • The Nuggets roster features two former Indiana Mr. Basketball winners: Gary Harris (2012) and Trey Lyles (2014).
  • Nuggets center Mason Plumlee is a native of Warsaw, Ind.

Tickets

After a four-game road trip, the Pacers will return home to host Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday, March 24 at 5:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »

Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »

TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 107.5 FM/1070 AM The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (studio host)


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