Game #6 Preview: Pacers Face Tired Nuggets

Denver Nuggets @ Indiana Pacers
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
7:00 pm EST
Conseco Fieldhouse
Indianapolis, Indiana

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q041NE-foN0&fs=1&hl=en_US]

The Nuggets played in Chicago last night, so that is a good omen for a Pacers team looking to snap a two-game losing streak. The bad news could be that Denver lost a tough one to the Bulls and are probably looking for someone to take it out on.

Given the “will they/won’t they” trade Carmelo talk that’s been going on for what seems like eons, this Denver team is not exactly the rock-solid squad that won 53 games last season and won the Northwest Division. Another plus is that, even with their 2009-10 solidarity, last year’s Nuggets were pretty bad on the road (19-22) and not as dominant as you would expect against the Eastern Conference (19-11).

The big story line for the Pacers tonight is obviously Brandon Rush. His five-game suspension is over and while he will not be joining the starting lineup (Coach Jim O’Brien “decided against it because he likes how well the starting unit has played defensively”), he is expected to play significant minutes. O’Brien told Mike Wells that, with Rush back, the rotation expands from nine guys to ten and the he “welcome[s] his ability to space the court.”

Other than that, the Pacers just need to improve on their ball control and overall offensive execution. The team shot 38.6% against Milwaukee the other night and 31.5% against Philly in their previous loss. Indy’s defense hasn’t been that bad, but if they can’t find a way to shoot at least 42% or so tonight, you can probably expect this to become a three-game losing streak.

Here are a few player-specific things to look for out of Denver this evening:

Nene – The big Brazilian missed three straight games with a groin strain before returning last night against Chicago. I didn’t see much of that game so I can’t really speak to his mobility, but groins don’t heal quickly so hopefully Hibbert can take advantage of a sore center playing on the second night of a back-to-back. UPDATE: Nene did tweak the groin a little last night. May not play tonight even possibly.

Al Harrington – The two-time Pacer has scored in double-digits in every game so far this year. His shooting percentages haven’t been great and he has been taking a ton of threes so expect his offense to either really hurt Indiana — or really hurt Denver. Still, he has been crashing the boards — and Indy hasn’t — so the Pacers will need to box him out in addition to putting a body on Nene, Melo and Sheldon Williams.

JR Smith – Like Baby Al, if he gets hot from three, it’s problems for Indy. If he doesn’t, it’s problems for Denver. Either way, he will be letting em fly — early and often.

Carmelo Anthony – He’s one of the best scorers in NBA history. You may have heard of him.

Pacers vs. Nuggets – By the Numbers

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