Indiana Pacers vs. Denver Nuggets Preview and Pick

Indiana Pacers +8.5 (12-21) at Denver Nuggets -8.5 (23-12) O/U 222.5 9 PM ET Monday January 5, 2009
By Jason Green at

Tonight the Indiana Pacers travel to Mile High City to play the Denver
Nuggets. This game should feature a lot of defense since the oddsmakers
put the total at 222.5! The Pacers have been a disappointment this season
and are currently in last place in the Central Division 15 games back of
the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, they have won 2 games in a row and there
is hope in the Midwest. Currently the Pacers are in 13th place in the Eastern
Conference, but they are only a few games out of the #8 position. The Nuggets
have won 3 games in row and are in 1st place in the Northwest Division 2.5
games ahead of the Portland Trailblazers. Trading Allen Iverson for Chauncey
Billups changed the Nuggets and made them a legit threat in the Western

This season the Nuggets are 12-4 at home and the Pacers are only 5-12 on the road.

Hoops bookies have the Nuggets as 8.5 point favorites with a total around 222.5. The Nuggets are posted at -450 as home favorites and the Pacers are posted at +350 as away dogs.


The Pacers come into this game after beating the Sacramento Kings in a barnburner on Saturday night 122-117. The high scorer for the Pacers in that game was Danny Granger going for 35 points on 10/20 shooting. For the game the Pacers shot 43/86 for a FG% of 50%. On defense the Pacers allowed the Kings to shoot 40/85 from the field for a FG% of 47.1%.

The Nuggets come into this game after beating the New Orleans Hornets 105-100 in a big Western Conference game. The high scorer for the Nuggets in that game was Carmelo Anthony going for 22 points on 10/17 shooting. For the game the Nuggets shot 36/72 for a FG% of 50%. On defense the Nuggets allowed the Hornets to shoot 37/74 from the floor for a FG% of 50%.

Both of these teams can light up the scoreboard, as the Nuggets rank 4th this season in scoring (103.3 ppg) and the Pacers rank 6th (102.9 ppg). However, neither of these teams are known for their defensive prowess, especially Indiana, as the Nuggets rank 20th in points allowed (100.1 ppg) and the Pacers rank 27th (104.9 ppg). The Pacers are actually a better rebounding team, as they have a rebounding differential of +1.2 rpg, while the Nuggets are barely in the negative.

This season the Nuggets are 19-15-1 ATS and the Pacers are 16-16-1. In terms of Over/Under games the Nuggets are 25-18 and the Pacers are 25-13.

On the injury front SF Mike Dunleavy is Out for the Pacers and C Nene is day-to-day for the Nuggets.

Even though the Pacers are only 12-21, including being 0-6 in their own division, they are 5-5 against the Western Conference this season. The Pacers begin a 5 game road trip with tonight’s game, which is important, as they need to gain ground in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers are 5-12 on the road, but have won 3 of their last 4 road games.

The key match ups in this game will be at the PG and SG positions.

PG’s T.J. Ford (13.8 ppg) and Chauncey Billups (17.7 ppg) will have to keep each other from penetrating in order for their team to win. Billups has a few inches on Ford and he may post him up and back him down in the lane.

Both SF’s in this game can flat out score, as Carmelo Anthony (21.1 ppg) and Danny Granger (25.1 ppg) can fill it up. The key will be which defense can contain these guys. The Nuggets have the better interior defense and that is a huge advantage.

The health of Nene is important, as he is banged up and huge inside presence that the Nuggets need in this game. Nene (14.7 ppg) is also leading he NBA in FG% and he will be guarded by rookie C Roy Hibbert (5.7 ppg). Hibbert has to play good D down low on Nene and the slashers of the Nuggets for the Pacers to have any chance in this game.

The Pacers are playing better basketball lately with 2 wins in a row and in their previous 2 losses were to New Orleans and Atlanta, who are both legit teams, by a total of only 8 points.

The Nuggets are headed to the playoffs, but for the Pacers to make the post-season they need to build on their recent success.