The Denver Nuggets (27-18) and the Indiana Pacers (26-18) meet tonight at the Pepsi Center in a battle of two teams searching for relevance in their perspective conferences. Both teams are stuck in middle playoff seeds (Nuggets are 6th Pacers 5th currently) and have every reason to use the rest of their games to try to grab a top 4 seed and play the first round at home and avoid their conferences' powerhouses early.
The Nuggets come in mostly hot, averaging 110.1 ppg over their last 11, and are winners of 10 of their last 12 (one loss was a perplexing anomaly against the lowly Wizards.) The Pacers, on the other hand, come into this game on a bit of a skid, losing their last two and losing track of their main identity; the ability to play defense. Over the season they lead the league in defense against points in the paint but have allowed 55 ppg over this current mini skid (up about 19.6 ppg.)
Key to the game?
You guessed it, play in the paint. The Nuggets have developed an identity as a streaky shooting team who, when they are on from outside can beat almost anyone (i.e. the win against OKC earlier this month) but when the shots aren't falling, the Nuggets rely on their energy, rebounding, and scoring inside. We will see if the Pacers have figured something out or if the Nuggets can exploit the recent decline in their interior D and dominate the game by dominating down low.
Will the Nuggets keep shooting well and cruise?
Will the Pacers step up on the interior forcing the Nuggets out of their comfort zone?
Will JaVale McGee do something both preposterous and amazing at the same time?
Will George Karl pull him for it?
Which of these teams has a better chance at a top seed and moving on in the playoffs?
Pacers @ Nuggets Tonight at 7:00 PM MST on Altitude 2 ...let's get it on!