#502 Denver Nuggetsvs.#501 Indianapolis Pacers
Thursday, January 1 2017, at 3:05pm EST
Written by Chris Kubala
Indiana Pacers (20-18 SU, 17-21 ATS, 23-15 O/U) vs. Denver Nuggets (14-23 SU, 17-20 ATS, 26-10-1 O/U)
NBA: Thursday, January 12, 2017, O2 Arena, London, England, 3 pm ET
Line: Denver -4; Over/Under: 225
It’s an inter-conference matchup taking place across the pond as the NBA heads to Jolly Old England. The Indiana Pacers are on the road to battle the Denver Nuggets pm Thursday afternoon. Indiana won their fifth straight game after dropping the Knicks 123-109 at home Saturday night. Denver lost their fifth in a row with a 121-106 defeat at Oklahoma City Saturday. Indiana holds a narrow 43-41 edge in the all-time regular season series between the former ABA rivals. Denver has taken eight of the last 10 meetings, including a 129-126 win in the last matchup here on January 17, 2016.
Indiana has taken five straight games to move over the .500 mark and into second place in the Central Division. Four of those wins, including the victory over the Knicks, have come by double figures and the Pacers have scored at least 111 points in each of them. After leading by four after one quarter, the Pacers took command by outscoring the Knicks 63-41 in the second and third quarters to lead by 26. New York cut the deficit in garbage time but never seriously mounted a threat. Indiana shot 50 percent from the floor and 11 of 24 from three point range while dominating the glass 53-32. Those numbers, along with 17 Knick turnovers, helped Indiana overcome 19 turnovers of their own. Paul George and Jeff Teague each had 19 points in the win for the Pacers.
The Pacers are 12th in the league in scoring with 105.8 points a night. Indiana is 23rd in the league in rebounding by collecting 42.6 boards per game. The Pacers are 13th in assists with 22.5 per game but are a sieve defensively. Indiana is 23rd in the league in scoring defense, allowing 106.2 points per game. Paul George leads the Pacers with 22.5 points plus 6.3 boards a game. Myles Turner (15.8 points, 7.6 boards, 2.41 blocks) is a solid presence in the low block while Thaddeus Young (11.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg is decent as well. Monta Ellis (9 ppg, 3.4 apg) and C.J. Miles (10.9 ppg) are solid secondary options. Jeff Teague (15.6 ppg, 7.9 assists, 1.66 steals) is a terrific point guard that can distribute while Glenn Robinson III, Al Jefferson and Rodney Stuckey give scoring depth for the Pacers. Indiana is 11th in the league by shooting 46 percent from the field. The Pacers are 25th with 8.3 threes per game. Indiana stands 10th in the league as they’re knocking down 36.7 percent from beyond the arc.
If it wasn’t for the Timberwolves, the Nuggets would find themselves entrenched in the basement of the Northwest Division. Denver is a high octane offense but their defense is about as efficient as an AMC Gremlin racing in the Indy 500. The Nuggets suffered their fifth straight loss and have allowed at least 120 points in each of those defeats. Denver was tied with Oklahoma City at the half but was outscored 61-46 in the second half to lose. The Nuggets were held to 40.4 percent shooting from the floor and 9 of 24 from beyond the arc in the game. Wilson Chandler put up 24 points off the bench to lead Denver in a losing effort.
The Nuggets are 6th in the league in scoring offense with an average of 108.1 points per game. Denver is currently 2nd in the league in rebounding with 47.1 rebounds per contest. The Nuggets are 8th in the league by dishing out 23.1 assists per game. Denver is 28th in scoring defense as they allow 111.2 points per contest. Danilo Gallinari leads the team with 17.1 points plus five boards a night. Wilson Chandler (16.2 points, 6.9 rebounds) and Emmanuel Mudiay (12.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists) are solid wing options on the offensive end. Will Barton (13.6 points, 4.6 boards) also scores in double figures but missed 12 games with an ankle injury. Kenneth Faried, Jameer Nelson, Jusuf Nurkic, Nikola Jokic (13.1 points, 7.8 boards, 3.8 assists), Gary Harris (12.8 points) and Jamal Murray are key pieces in the rotation for Denver. The Nuggets are currently tied for 15th in the league in field goal percentage by shooting 45.1 percent from the field. Denver is tied for 10th in the league by sinking 9.7 threes per game and is tied for 14th in the league in three point shooting by sinking 35.8 percent from beyond the arc.
This is a tale of two teams heading in opposite directions. Indiana has won five in a row while Denver has lost five straight. The Pacers have scored at least 111 in their last five games and Denver has given up at least 120 in their last five. Playing in London may throw the teams off a little bit but that will wear off quickly. The Nuggets need Gallinari back but he’s questionable here. Inevitably, Denver’s defense, or lack thereof, costs them again as the Pacers make it six wins in a row.
The Nuggets are one of the league’s most explosive offensive units. They have to be in order to try and pick up wins as they are a sieve on the defensive end of the floor. Indiana is in a similar situation though not quite to the extremes that Denver has to deal with. Still, the Pacers aren’t as good defensively as they were in the Frank Vogel era and it shows. On the flip side, their offensive numbers have improved in the post-Vogel era but that doesn’t necessarily take much in this day of inflated offensive numbers.
Indiana has gone over the total in their last six games overall. The over has hit in each of the Pacers’ last six after a straight up win, in their last five against the Northwest Division, in their last five after an ATS win and in their last five after scoring at least 100 points. Denver has gone over the total in their last five against teams with a winning record and in their last four after scoring at least 100 points. The over is 3-0-1 in the Nuggets’ last four against the East and 5-0-1 in their last six after a straight up double digit loss. This one seems poised to blow past the total.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.