Photo: Brian Spurlock – USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Nuggets face another tough challenge Tuesday night as they welcome a tough Indiana Pacers team into the Mile High City.
When the Nuggets closed out their seven game road trip last Friday night in Oklahoma City, a win was all but needed to allow the Nuggets to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race. A solid 126-125 victory over the Thunder led the Nuggets into another must-win game at the Pepsi Center on Sunday afternoon. After what may go down as one of the craziest and weirdest games in Nuggets history, the team found a way to miraculously win and ultimately give them some momentum heading into the final five games of the season.
This is one we'll remember for a while. pic.twitter.com/SCFnRBA1El
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) April 3, 2018
With just five games remaining in the season, the Nuggets record sits at 42-35 and puts them at ninth place in the West. Just a game behind the New Orleans Pelicans for the eighth spot in the conference, the Nuggets are just a game behind in the loss column to both the Pelicans and the Minnesota Timberwolves. With the Nuggets owning the tiebreaker over the Pelicans, if the Nuggets are tied with them at the end of the season the Nuggets will get the benefit of the doubt in the standings.
The same can be said if they’re tied with the Timberwolves, that is if they take care of business in their final two games against the Wolves this season. The two games against the Wolves are what may ultimately make or break the Nuggets playoff chances, but a win on Tuesday night against a good Pacers team would also do huge favors in the Nuggets chances of retuning back to the postseason.
The Pacers come to Pepsi Center already clinching a playoff spot with a record of 46-31. After an offseason in which the Pacers traded Paul George away for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, a lot of people doubted whether or not this Pacers team had enough talent to make a postseason run. They’ve definitely proved everyone wrong and have been one of the surprise teams in the Eastern Conference this season. Currently sitting at fifth in the East, if the Pacers are able to close the season strong they have a slim chance of climbing all the way up to the three seed and potentially securing the chance to have home court advantage for most of the playoffs.
Of the guys mentioned above, Oladipo has been the Pacers best player this season and currently leads the team in points per game at 23.3. Oladipo is a phenomenal shooter shooting over 36 percent from behind the three-point line and over 47 percent from the field. In the Nuggets matchup against the Pacers in December, Oladipo went off and scored 47 points in a Pacers overtime victory against the Nuggets. Considering how great a scorer and how tough a player Oladipo is to stop, we could see the Nuggets match defensive specialist Torrey Craig on Oladipo in hopes of slowing down the Pacers best player.
Speaking of Torrey Craig, after stepping in for Wilson Chandler in the Nuggets game against the Bucks, Craig has found a grove with the Nuggets over the last couple of weeks. Craig has played great defensively (per usual) and has even stepped up his game on the offensive end of the court with the absence of Chandler and Gary Harris. With Chandler being questionable for Tuesday nights game and Harris already being ruled out, look for another potential start for Craig and for him be a force in what hopes to be a big Nuggets victory.
#Nuggets F Wilson Chandler (nasal fracture) is listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game vs. Indiana. He did not play on Sunday vs. Milwaukee
— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) April 2, 2018
Stay tuned to the postgame and find out if the Nuggets were able to take care of business against the Pacers.