INDIANA PACERS (26-18)
at DENVER NUGGETS (27-18)
Tip-off: Monday, 9:05 p.m. ET
Line: Denver -5.5, Total: 195
The sizzling Nuggets seek a fourth straight win when the slumping Pacers pay a visit to Pepsi Center on Monday night.
Indiana ranks second in the NBA in scoring defense (89.9 PPG), but has allowed a hefty 107.0 PPG during its two-game losing skid. This could be a huge problem facing a Denver squad that has tallied 115.7 PPG during its three-game win streak. The Nuggets have also dominated this series recently, going 13-3 SU (12-4 ATS) against the Pacers over the past eight calendar years, which includes a 6-1 SU (5-2 ATS) record in games played in Denver.
Can the Nuggets retain their series domination over the Pacers on Monday night? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. For NBA Totals, the experts are a stellar 11-2 (85%) this past weekend with StatFox Gary going 6-0 and StatFox Brian going 3-0 on Friday/Saturday/Sunday. Scott is also 11-7 (61%) since Jan. 15, boosting his impressive season NBA Totals record to 64-47 (58%). For Best Bets, Scott is 5-2 ATS (71%) in the past four days to boost his season Best Bets mark to 53.3% ATS (64-56-1). Brian is at 51.1% ATS (68-65-3) while Gary is an even 50% ATS for the season. StatFox Dave is 6-4 ATS (60%) since Friday. The experts are collectively 50% ATS for the season in NBA Best Bets.
Indiana has scored the second-fewest points in the NBA this season at 91.4 PPG, and has really missed last season's top scorer SF Danny Granger (18.7 PPG in 2011-12) who has been out for the entire season with a knee injury. But three Pacers players have upped their scoring averages from last season in SG Paul George (17.4 PPG, +5.3 from 12.1 PPG), PF David West (16.8 PPG, +4.0 from 12.8 PPG) and PG George Hill (14.7 PPG, +5.1 from 9.6 PPG). George has 17 games of 20+ points this season and has been scoring at a 21.3 PPG clip (42% threes) with 9.1 RPG in his past nine games. He's also made 58% of his shots (11-of-19 threes) versus the Nuggets in his career, pouring in 22 points with six rebounds and six assists in the Dec. 7 home loss to Denver. Like George, West has also had a great run in the past seven games with 19.3 PPG (51% FG), 6.6 RPG and 3.4 APG, scoring a team-high 24 points on Saturday's overtime loss in Utah. And in his two meetings with the Nuggets since joining the Pacers, West has 20.0 PPG on 18-of-23 FG (78%) plus 9.0 RPG. Hill has been the model of consistency in the past eight games, scoring at least 11 points in every game with an average 15.5 PPG on 48% FG. His best game in this stretch was Saturday when he scored 22 points (10-of-16 FG) with nine rebounds and eight assists. But a big disappointment for the Pacers has been the play of C Roy Hibbert, whose 9.8 PPG on 41.8% FG are way down from his 12.8 PPG and 49.7% FG last season. In the Dec. 7 loss to Denver, Hibbert made just 3-of-10 shots. His interior defense has also been lacking, as Indiana has given up 101 points in the paint in the past two games, well above its average of 35.4 PIP per game allowed (best in NBA).
Denver has such a stellar home record (17-3 SU, 13-7 ATS) due to an offense scoring 107.8 PPG on 47.3% FG in the thin air. The Nuggets shot 52.8% from the floor in Saturday's 121-93 blowout of Sacramento, marking their best shooting rate since Dec. 16. They also held the Kings to 42.0% FG, the lowest opponent shooting clip since Jan. 5, and have forced 21.0 TOPG in the past four contests. The Nuggets have nine players scoring more than 8.0 PPG, including six in double-figures. SF Danilo Gallinari leads the team with 16.6 PPG and he has scored at least 11 points in all 13 games this month, averaging 18.2 PPG on 45% FG and 43% threes. PG Ty Lawson has eclipsed the 20-point mark in three of his past four games, averaging 21.8 PPG on a blistering 58% FG (10-of-15 threes) to go along with 7.0 APG. SG Andre Iguodala has also shot the ball well during the team's three-game win streak, averaging 14.3 PPG on 50% FG with 5.0 APG and 4.0 RPG. Iguodala played very well versus Indiana last year when he was with Philadelphia (17.3 PPG, 51% FG, 43% threes, 6.0 RPG, 5.5 APG), but had a subpar 10 points, two assists and zero rebounds in 37 minutes against the Pacers on Dec. 7. PF Kenneth Faried and C JaVale McGee will be tasked with stopping David West and Roy Hibbert in the paint. Faried did not fare well on Dec. 7 with just four points, seven rebounds and minus-14 rating, but McGee scored 20 points on a perfect 9-of-9 FG with eight rebounds in that win over Indiana. SF Corey Brewer (11.1 PPG) also had 20 points in that Dec. 7 victory.