Good health and good fortune made for a very good day off for the Pacers on Tuesday as they prepared to face the Nuggets in Denver on Wednesday night.
The mile high matchup is never an easy road game and tougher so in recent years with a strong, young Nuggets team that has developed into a serious contender in the Western Conference. That team is fueled by MVP Nikola Jokic, potent scoring threat Jamal Murray and a young, dynamic forward who can burn you inside out out in Michael Porter Jr.
This is where the good fortune comes in for the Pacers. None of those three key players for the Nuggets will be available to play the Pacers. Murray and Porter are both out with injuries. Also, after Jokic responded flagrantly to a flagrant foul by Markieff Morris on Monday, the NBA announced he will sit out due to a one-game suspension.
As for good health, on Monday Shams Charania reported on TJ Warren’s potential return.
There’s optimism that Pacers swingman TJ Warren will be able to make his season debut sometime in late December or January, sources said. Warren missed all but four games in 2020-21 and has yet to play this season due to lingering issues from his injured left foot. He recently got out of a walking boot and is progressing in his rehab.
On Tuesday, Rick Carlisle acknowledged the report but try to minimize expectations to relieve any undue pressure on Warren returning too soon. Carlisle himself has said Warren will be out weeks not months, but now suggested not to get excited about Warren until after New Years. Regardless, Warren is on the court shooting so progress is being made.
More importantly for the immediate future, Malcolm Brogdon is expected back in the lineup against the Nuggets after missing the first two games of the road trip with a non-COVID illness.
Leveling out the playing rotation with Brogdon’s return which lets T.J. McConnell run the reserve minutes will be welcomed and hopefully also level out the fluctuating positive and negative runs the Pacers played through in the prior two games.
Finally, a hearty welcome to James Boyd who is the new Pacers beat writer for the Indy Star!
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