The Denver Nuggets are in a real battle for top seed in the Western Conference, with the Memphis Grizzlies hot on their heels.
While the Nuggets are currently top, they are been chased down by a Grizzlies side who have won each of their last 11 games. However, Denver head into Friday night’s clash with the Pacers having won each of their last eight.
The visiting Pacers are a surprise Play-in contender, but they head to Ball Arena on the back of a terrible run. Their slide needs to end before they fall out of postseason contention, but this difficult trip doesn’t look like their chance to bounce back.
|What||Indiana Pacers @ Denver Nuggets|
|Where||Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado|
|When||02:10, Saturday 21st January|
|How to watch||NBA League Pass, bet365 Sports Live Streaming|
|Odds||IND Pacers 9/2, DEN Nuggets 1/6|
The Pacers were one of the East’s early surprise packages, inspired by guard Tyrese Haliburton’s leap this term. However, their campaign has begun to tail off at the wrong moment.
Having gone into the season expected to tank and sell off players, they excelled, but a five-game losing streak less than a month from the trade deadline poses questions for the front office.
The Pacers have slid into the middle pack in the east, joining the Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors in a group with decisions to make.
They could easily bottom out or be aggressive and try to climb into the top six. The thing they can’t do is stand still just to wind up stuck between the Play-offs and the top draft picks.
However, it’s tough to see them improving matters in this clash. Judging by their away record so far, the Pacers’ draft odds should grow after this one. They are 8-14 on the road, including seven defeats in their last 10 away games.
Things are even worse now with Haliburton ruled out, having lost their last three games by a combined 51 points. With a daunting trip in prospect to start the weekend, this could be a rough one for the Pacers.
The Nuggets are leading contenders to finish top of the Western Conference standings, priced at 5/8 to claim first seed. However, they are only marginally ahead of the 13/10 Grizzlies, who are on a tear right now.
However, the Nuggets are in stellar shape too, having won their last eight games. They’ve also won each of their last 15 home games, putting together a brilliant record at Ball Arena. They’ve won 21 of 24 matches at home this term, so they should make short work of the struggling Pacers.
The Nuggets head into this game at 1/6 on the Money Line, as they look to carry on a 15-2 run. While they claimed a 122-119 victory against the Pacers early in the season, the return clash isn’t likely to be that close - as the Nuggets’ price suggests.
The hosts came flying out of the traps this term putting up some strong performances going forward, but they’ve also gradually improved defensively as the weeks have gone on. They’ve also put together an incredibly consistent run, scoring over 120 points in six of their last eight games.
Nikola Jokic has played a key part in that, boosting his MVP hopes with three straight triple-doubles. That includes a recent 36-point haul which saw him score 13 of 14 field goals alongside 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
Even after consecutive MVP awards, Jokic’s displays are hard to ignore and he’s now 5/6 to retain the award.
With Jokic in incredible form, the Nuggets are hard to oppose here. The Pacers have a +11.5 point advantage on the spread, but even that doesn’t look big enough for them to cover.
The visitors have a perfect split of 23 wins and losses so far, a record which should hardly worry the hosts. Denver have a 12-4 record against over .500 teams and a 20-9 record against the rest.
The Nuggets are getting it right at both ends of the court and a weakened Pacers side on a skid should be no match for them.
The Nuggets are 10/11 to win by 12 points or more in this clash and they look good to cover that line, especially with the visitors bound for Colorado on the back of a string of heavy defeats.