The Indiana Pacers will meet the Denver Nuggets in Denver this evening where they will face off against the perennial MVP candidate Nikola Jokic. And the praise is well warranted.
Nikola Jokic is averaging 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 9.9 assists, almost averaging a triple double on the season. He’s shooting 63% from the field and 37% from deep. In other words, Jokic is from another planet and there seems to be nothing that anybody in the NBA can do to stop him. Add to this the fact that Denver is, by most metrics, the best team in the league at the moment.
On the other side of the equation enter the Pacers who are on a five game losing streak since Tyrese Haliburton got injured in Madison Square Garden. They have looked completely out of sync and are starting to show that Haliburton may be closer to an MVP candidate than many of us realized.
The Pacers will have to find a way to limit the opportunities that Denver has on offense and try to disrupt Jokic in any way they can. Earlier this year they had some success in getting Jokic into foul trouble early, but it is unlikely that Turner can do the same thing again.
Their biggest hope is limiting everyone else, and hope Jokic can’t beat you alone.
The Pacers will need to try and limit everyone else on the Denver roster and try to make Jokic beat them by himself. If Jokic has a bad night, this strategy will work at the Pacers may be able to exit Denver having broken their losing streak and with a solid resume-building win to show for it.
The much more likely outcome, is that Jokic absolutely can beat the Pacers by himself, and the Pacers continue their losing streak as they fly out of Denver.
Either way there are a few things to look for in the game against Denver win or lose:
- Can Mathurin show that he can step up and be “the guy” that can take over a game in Haliburton’s absence?
- Can we see continued development from some of the other younger players such as Andrew Nembhard and Aaron Nesmith?
- Can Duarte get back on track and stay on track after having a disappointing start to the season?
All of these questions and more should be in fans’ minds as we watch the greatness of Nikola Jokic square off against the energetic group of young developing Pacers’ players.