Nuggets vs. Pacers NBA Odds Picks: Bet On Healthier Denver (March 4)
Bart Young/Getty Images. Pictured: Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
- Denver has one of the league's best offensive trios that includes MVP-candidate Nikola Jokic.
- Indiana has been plagued by injuries and is looking forward to the All-Star Break.
- Joe Dellera explains why the Nuggets have the edge in Thursday's matchup.
Nuggets vs. Pacers Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds as of Wednesday night and via BetMGM.|
The Nuggets cap play their final game before the All-Star Break against the Pacers who just stole a win on the road against the Cavaliers.
Both of these teams are not where they expected to be in the standings at this point in the season, but who will finish strong before the break?
The Denver Nuggets continue to be without JaMychal Green, Paul Millsap and Gary Harris for injury-related reasons, and they also will miss Markus Howard, R.J. Hampton and Facundo Campazzo due to health and safety protocols in this game.
The Nuggets have been carried by the pair of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray and have run into some poor luck in the win column so far this season, securing 2.7 fewer wins than expected, per Cleaning the Glass. While their defense is middling, Denver boasts a top-five offense in the league which has been even better with the unlocking of Michael Porter Jr.
This trio has played 802 possessions together, and they are +18.9 points per 100 possessions. They are particularly lethal together because Jokic optimizes their talent as both a scorer and a facilitator. Denver is able to run in transition and play a set half-court offense, while Murray can function as either the primary ball-handler or move off ball due to Jokic's passing ability. Add in MPJ's 60.3% eFG%, and this becomes a very difficult force to stop on offense.
The Pacers have been plagued with injuries and bad luck the first half of the season. While they listed Doug McDermott, Domantas Sabonis, and Jeremy Lamb on last night's injury report, they all played their typical number of minutes.
The Pacers have struggled to replace T.J. Warren, Victor Oladipo and the injured Caris LeVert this season, and it's reflected in their 16-18 record. They've been even worse of late – over the past two weeks they are 2-4 with a -3.9 point differential and have failed to cover the Vegas spread by an average of 4.8 points, per Cleaning the Glass.
The big issue for Indiana over this two-week spiral has been their defense. They're giving up three points more per 100 possessions, and they've seen their allowed eFG% balloon. This is not entirely surprising though, because the Pacers' allowed eFG% on the season is 53.7% but their expected was 55.2%. Over the past two weeks Indiana allowed an eFG% of 55.7%, good for bottom five in the league. They've defended the rim decently, but they've been getting shredded from mid-range and 3-point range.
This is a game both teams need to wrap up the first half of the season on a strong note. I expect the Pacers to struggle with containing the Nuggets and MVP-candidate Nikola Jokic. Denver shoots well from all over the floor, so switching up defensive looks won't be enough to stop the Nuggets.
The Nuggets have started the trio of Jokic, Murray, and MPJ the past few games, and I expect that to continue. Once a line is posted I will be playing the Nuggets 1Q spread (up to -1.5) as they look to run against the Pacers who just played last night.
Looking at the full game, Indiana's recent play is not concerning long term due to their injuries and missing players, but it certainly is concerning tonight. The Pacers are just 4-7 ATS as a dog including 1-2 ATS as a home dog. Contrast this with the Nuggets who are 8-5 ATS as a road favorite. Denver has played better of late and should finish this first half with a win (and a cover).
Pick: Denver Nuggets -3.5