Pacers vs Nuggets

Pacers Ready for Tough Battle with Jokic, Nuggets

Jan. 2, 2020 - Myles Turner, Nate McMillan, and Justin Holiday discuss Thursday's opponent, the Denver Nuggets, and their All-NBA center, Nikola Jokic.

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Pacers Ready for Tough Battle with Jokic, Nuggets

Jan. 2, 2020 - Myles Turner, Nate McMillan, and Justin Holiday discuss Thursday's opponent, the Denver Nuggets, and their All-NBA center, Nikola Jokic.
Jan 2, 2020  |  02:01

Game Preview: Pacers vs Nuggets

Thursday, January 2, 2020 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
by Brendan Rourke
Pacers.com Contributor

Matchup

After closing out the decade with a dominant performance against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Pacers (22-12) begin 2020 against one of the underrated beasts of the Western Conference — the Denver Nuggets (23-10) — at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Denver is entering game two of a season-long, five-game road trip. They lost the opening game of their road stretch 130-104 against the Houston Rockets on Dec. 31. The team from the Mile High City has not fared well on the road against Eastern Conference opponents so far this season, having just a 2-3 record against such opponents heading into this contest.

But make no mistake about it, the Nuggets have the personnel to give the Pacers fits. Four of Denver's five starters average in double figures. Leading the way is 2018-19 All-Star Nikola Jokic. The seven-footer is nearly averaging a double-double this season, scoring 18.1 points per game while grabbing 9.9 boards. Jokic has a similar length and paint presence to other centers that have given Indiana some trouble in past games. The star center also has seven triple-doubles this season, illustrating his range of talents.

Accompanying Jokic are experienced NBA players Jamal Murray (17.1 points per game), Will Barton (14.6 points per game), and 13-year veteran Paul Millsap (12.4 points per game). Millsap, a stretch-forward, currently ranks fourth in the NBA in 3-point percentage, shooting 45.6 percent (31-of-68).

Similar to the Pacers, the Nuggets are hungry to remain in the win column. They've lost two of their past four, including a 112-100 head-scratcher to the New Orleans Pelicans on Christmas Day. Denver was outscored in all but one quarter in that game. Fans should look forward to a close battle between these two often underappreciated great NBA teams.

Projected Starters

Pacers: PG - Aaron Holiday, SG - Jeremy Lamb, SF - T.J. Warren, PF - Domantas Sabonis, C - Myles Turner
Nuggets: PG - Jamal Murray, SG - Will Barton, SF - Torrey Craig, PF - Paul Millsap, C - Nikola Jokic

Injury Report

Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon - out (sore lower back), Naz Mitrou-Long - out (right ankle sprain), Victor Oladipo - out (right knee surgery rehab), Edmond Sumner - out (sore right knee)

Nuggets: Gary Harris - questionable (left shin contusion), Bol Bol - out (left foot injury management)

Last Meeting

March 24, 2019: After a winless four-game road trip, Indiana returned home and walloped the Denver Nuggets 124-88 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 35 points in just 25 minutes, after hitting his first 10 shots and finishing 13-of-16 from the field in the victory. The win kept Indiana in fourth place in the Eastern Conference Standing through 74 games.

With the Pacers leading 62-46 at halftime, the Nuggets managed to climb back to within 11 on a Will Barton tip-in with 8:49 left in the third quarter. But Bogdanovic would take over once again. He scored nine points and Wesley Matthews added a pair of threes as Indiana rattled off a 19-6 run over the next 5:17.

Just eight days prior, Indiana lost in Denver, 102-100.

"We looked at a lot of film from our last game against these guys," Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said. "Better execution, better spacing, better ball movement, defensively we were connected against the second-best team in the West. This is a really good win for us."

Noteworthy

  • The overall head-to-head series is tied 45-45, but Denver has won nine of the past 15 meetings with the Pacers in Indianapolis.
  • The Nuggets drafted Pacers forward Doug McDermott 11th overall in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. He was subsequently traded on draft night to the Chicago Bulls for the draft rights to Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic.
  • With a win, Pacers head coach Nate McMillan would tie Chuck Daly for 23rd all-time in NBA head coaching victories.

Tickets

The Pacers welcome Nikola Jokic and Denver Nuggets to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Thursday, Jan. 2 at 7:00 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: 93.5/107.5 FM/1070 AM The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)
Please Note: Inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Pacers radio broadcasts can be heard on 1080 AM instead of 1070.





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