Preview: Denver Nuggets vs. Houston Rockets – again

The NBA schedule makers are messing with the Denver Nuggets by having them face the same foes multiple times down the stretch. From March 18th til the end of the season they will have played the Oklahoma City Thunder twice, the New Orleans Pelicans three times, and the Houston Rockets three times as well. Tonight is #2 against the Rockets after just losing to them 109-105 on Saturday.

The Nuggets may still be very short-handed, as no definitive word is out yet on Danilo Gallinari or Wilson Chandler’s final availability for this game. The Rockets, meanwhile, just have to take care of business at home to push the Nuggets down to a tie with the Portland Trail Blazers in the loss column and dim Denver’s playoff hopes.

Time is running out on the season, and every game matters. We’ll see if Denver can pull a winning rabbit out of this hat.

The Basics

Who: Houston Rockets (48-22) at Denver Nuggets (33-36)

When: 6:00 PM MDT

Where: Toyota Center, Houston TX

How to watch: Altitude TV

Rival blog: The Dream Shake

PositionNuggetsRocketsAdvantage
PGJameer NelsonPatrick BeverleyRockets
SGGary HarrisJames HardenRockets
SFJuancho HernangomezTrevor ArizaRockets
PFMason PlumleeRyan AndersonEven
CNikola JokicClint CapelaNuggets
BenchJamal Murray, Will Barton, Kenneth Faried,
probably not Emmanuel Mudiay
Lou Williams, Eric Gordon, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, NeneRockets

Injury Report: Danilo Gallinari – questionable (knee), Wilson Chandler – questionable (groin), Darrell Arthur – doubtful (knee soreness)

***UPDATE***

Thoughts:

  • Denver needs to find more consistency tonight. The rhythm of Saturday’s game was all fouled up, literally. Nikola Jokic had 5 fouls in only 22 minutes played and the two teams combined for 65 free throws and all kinds of ridiculously choppy play. Denver’s 11 missed free throws were part of the difference in that game, but James Harden’s 40-point triple double didn’t help. It’s also unlikely that the Rockets will go 1 for their first 15 from behind the arc, either. Without a more consistent scoring effort from all parts of the floor and a lack of foul trouble, Denver will struggle.
  • Gotta keep the Rockets off the glass. It’s hard enough to beat Houston on a normal night; the Rockets assault you from the three point line and the charity stripe. But Denver lost the rebounding battle on Saturday as well, and that can’t happen again if the Nuggets want the W. No matter who is in the game, boxing out and grabbing every available bounce will be key. Houston will not shoot 21% from 3 again tonight, so Denver will have to make up the difference in other areas.

Prediction:

I expect Denver to fight hard, to be in less foul trouble and even to possibly get either Gallo or Chandler back (Update: neither will play tonight). And I still expect them to lose. The Rockets have lost 9 games at home all year, and Denver will have to bring its A game to pull this out. I’m guessing they come up just short again and fall into that tie with the Trail Blazers.

115-108, Houston.

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