Indiana Pacers: Do the Jokic-less Denver Nuggets pose any threat?

Indiana Pacers, Myles Turner, Nikola Jokic - Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers, Myles Turner, Nikola Jokic - Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

After nabbing a close win over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, the Indiana Pacers are slated for another inter-conference road matchup, now against the Denver Nuggets, which are currently sitting at a deadlock for fifth in the West.

4-7. 73. 9 PM ET. 100. Bally Sports Indiana. Wednesday, Nov 10. 6-4.

What was supposedly the Pacers’ first crack at reigning Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic, however, turned out to be a lost cause. With the Joker serving his one-game suspension against Indiana after a wild altercation at the closing minutes of their matinee against the Miami Heat, the Nuggets will be without their leading scorer, rebounder, and assist man against the Blue and Gold.

The Indiana Pacers should not underestimate the Jokic-less Denver Nuggets

Already missing Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr alongside Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets’ three most potent scorers, the Indiana Pacers will be the favorites to clinch the victory at the Ball Arena, where they have historically struggled playing at, losing 11 of the last 12 at Denver’s homecourt.

Still, the Jokic-less Nuggets pack some punch, enough to usurp the Pacers if they come unfocused. Monte Morris, Will Barton, and Aaron Gordon are all capable of getting hot from all over the floor. With increased touches sans the MVP, one of them could be in for a career night if Indiana’s defense is not as sharp as in their previous contest. Veterans Jeff Green, Austin Rivers, and the sneaky Facundo Campazzo cannot be neglected either.

On the flip side, one area that the Pacers can exploit particularly is the Nuggets’ interior defense. With Jokic obscurely being one of the best defensive anchors in the league this season, his absence will be sorely felt by the hosts against Domantas Sabonis, and the red-hot Myles Turner, who has been very impressive on offense as of late.

While it certainly won’t be cakewalk to exploit mismatches against Denver’s second-ranked defense, the Pacers should have an overwhelming advantage on offense, at least on paper. With Malcolm Brogdon now set to return, Indiana will have multiple options to attack the Nuggets and turn around their putrid shooting performance from the Sacramento game.

The best-case scenario, of course, is for the Pacers to take this game early so they can afford to rest some players in the first leg of a back-to-back, with the formidable Utah Jazz on deck for Indiana the following night.

However, if the Blue and Gold succumbs to Denver’s suffocating defense and once again commit a bunch of head-scratching turnovers, then the Indiana Pacers could be in for a long night at the lair of one of the West’s better teams, even without their big names. They will have to be assertive, yet equally guarded, to come away with a victory and continue their rise in the standings out East.

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