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It's gut-check time for Denver as Nuggets visit Pacers

T.J. McBride Avatar
March 24, 2017


The Denver Nuggets throttled the Cleveland Cavaliers 126-113 just two days ago but now take on Paul George and the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Field House, where Indiana is 25-10 on the season. Denver will need to find a way to limit George the same way they limited LeBron James on Wednesday night, when James was held to just 18 points and a team-worst -30 plus-minus.

With just 11 games remaining in the regular season, and eight of those on the road, Denver needs every win possible starting with a victory in Indiana.

Regular season game No. 72 | Denver Nuggets (34-37) vs Indiana Pacers (36-35)

Bankers Life Field House, Indianapolis, Indiana | 5:00 PM MST | TV: Altitude

Building Late-Season Momentum

The Nuggets seem to be finding their groove when it matters most. Behind the passing-savant Nikola Jokic, Denver has found their winning recipe by becoming the most efficient offense in all of the NBA since re-inserting Jokic into the starting lineup.

Since that time, Jokic has transformed Denver’s offense into a juggernaut. Since the infamous date of Dec. 15, the Nuggets are first in offensive rating (114.2), second in effective field goal percentage (55.3), fourth in three-point percentage (38.5), second in assists per game (27.2), and are 25-21 in that span. In Denver’s last 14 games they have secured nine wins and are coming off what was arguably the win of the year against the reigning NBA Champion Cavaliers.

If Denver is to make the playoffs, they need to continue to build on that momentum and that starts with securing a win in one of the most difficult arenas to play in as a visiting team; Bankers Life Field House. The Pacers suffocate the opposition at home and are giving up just 102 points per game this year and are holding teams to just 43.6 percent from the field and 33.8 percent from three while scoring 106.5 points per game.

If Denver can go into an away game in a hostile arena and win after beating the reigning champs it will further elevate the constantly maturing Nuggets. This is a gut-check game for a young team and how they react will say a lot towards how the rest of the regular season will play out.

Playoff Outlook

Once Denver secured their improbable victory over the Cavaliers, their lead for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference grew to a game-and-a-half. The Portland Trail Blazers followed that up with a 15-point demolition of the New York Knicks to close that gap back to one single game and are just one game back of Denver.

The Dallas Mavericks are quietly staying alive in the playoff and sit just three games behind Denver after narrowly defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 97-95. Both the Mavericks and Trail Blazers are off Thursday night giving Denver a chance to extend their lead once again.

It is seeming more and more likely that Denver will have to break the 40-wins threshold if they hope to be in the race for the playoffs which leaves them needing six wins in their final 11 games, eight of which are on the road. The Trail Blazers remaining schedule includes 11 games against seven teams with losing records and just three of those games are on the road.

The race for the eighth seed looks like it will go down to the wire.


Danilo Gallinari (right knee bone bruise) is the lone Nuggets player who remains on the injury report. Wilson Chandler, who had 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists against Cleveland in his first game back from a groin injury, will start in his place while Mason Plumlee continues to start in the frontcourt alongside Jokic.


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