Denver Nuggets vs. Indiana Pacers Pick & Prediction JANUARY 14th 2024

From the moment the Denver Nuggets won the NBA title in June, they hoped they could bring back Bruce Brown, an unrestricted free agent who had been an integral piece to their championship puzzle.

Denver had little room under the salary cap, so Brown signed with the Indiana Pacers for two years and $44 million. For the first time since he celebrated winning it all with the Nuggets, Brown returns to Denver on Sunday with his new team for a matinee matchup.

Brown averaged 11.5 points in his one season in Denver, but his value was his overall game and his ability to guard multiple positions. He has brought the same impact to Indiana and it has been key, especially with Tyrese Haliburton out with a left hamstring strain.

The Pacers have won three straight, the last two without their star guard, and are 9-1 in their last 10 games. They are on a six-game road trip that started at Atlanta on Friday and will play the final five games against Western Conference teams.

“Two wins without Tyrese, that’s really important,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said.

The Pacers have overcome the absence of Haliburton by spreading out the scoring load. They had eight players score in double figures and combined for 41 assists in Friday’s 126-108 win against the Hawks. T.J. McConnell led the way with 14 assists off the bench.

“I think that’s our (modus operandi), really, on offense, to have a lot of guys score some points,” said Andrew Nembhard, who had 10 points and six assists.

Brown can give Indiana some inside information on how to stop the Nuggets, but it won’t be easy. Nikola Jokic has shown he can beat teams by scoring or by passing, and if one is taken away, he hurts opponents with the other.

In a victory against Detroit last week, Jokic took only three shots but had 16 assists. Friday night, he had his 12th triple-double of the season and 117th of his career in a 125-113 victory over New Orleans.

Denver bounced back from a disappointing loss at Utah on Wednesday night when it lacked energy.

“It was night and day, a different team,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I felt in that Utah game, that wasn’t Denver Nuggets basketball.”

Despite a couple of bad performances Denver has still won 10 of its last 13 games. Jokic has been extremely efficient over the last eight games, going 73-for-92 from the field (79.3 percent) and is hitting 90 percent from the free-throw line. He is also averaging 10 assists in six January games.

One of his 14 assists in the win over the Pelicans got the home crowd going. He got the ball at the foul line with his back to the basket and delivered an over-the-head, no-look alley-oop to Aaron Gordon at the end of the first half.

“It seems like we have a good connection. He’s always there, I just need to pass it,” Jokic said. “I saw him a moment before. I was hoping he was still there; he was still there.”

–Field Level Media

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