Houston Rockets vs Denver Nuggets: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

Where: Pepsi Center in Denver, CO

When: Friday, February 1st at 10:00 PM EST

How (TV/Radio): ESPN, Altitude, AT&T Sportsnet – Southwest | KKSE-FM 92.5/KKSE 950, 790 AM

Houston Rockets (Away)

Head Coach: Mike D’Antoni {All-Time 604-490 | DEN, PHX, NYK, LAL, HOU}

The Houston Rockets are trying to make a run at the top five in the Western Conference. With a record of 29-21, a recent loss to the Pelicans put a halt on their recent run to overtake the Portland Trail Blazers for fourth in the West.

Over the last ten games the Rockets have gone 6-4, with a point differential of +1.4. While they pulled off a gutsy win against the Toronto Raptors, their loss to the Pelicans showed that the injured Rockets’ patch-work roster still has its holes.

When they face off against the Denver Nuggets, Houston will have their hands full. Denver has a disciplined defence that won’t fall for the simple Harden-Faried pick and roll every time. They have a plethora of capable wing defenders, itching for the opportunity to get up on Harden’s shot. The Rockets as a whole will have to contribute if they want to take down the Nuggets.

Denver Nuggets (Home)

Head Coach: Mike Malone {All-Time 192-209 | SAC, DEN}

The Denver Nuggets are sitting comfortably at second place in the Western Conference table. After going down 25 against the Memphis Grizzlies, unlikely hero Malik Beasley sparked the comeback for the Nuggets to break the hearts of those in Memphis.

Over their last ten matches the Denver Nuggets are 7-3, with a point differential of +5.7. They have also been absolutely unstoppable at home, holding the leagues second best home record (first belonging to the Toronto Raptors).

The Denver Nuggets can’t afford to put themselves in a hole against the Houston Rockets. The Rockets are led by the high-powered offensive ability of James Harden. While the Nuggets have a plethora of wing defenders at their call, Harden can feast on the foul line if the Nuggets can’t effectively defend the screen and roll. It will be up to Jokic to organize the defence, as he will be seen as the weak link to attack on the defensive end.

What’s At Stake?

The Houston Rockets and the Denver Nuggets meet again in this Western Conference tilt. In the all-time series, the Rockets lead the Nuggets 99-85.

A win for the Rockets would place them one game behind the Portland Trail Blazers for fourth in the Western Conference.

A win for the Denver Nuggets would put them one game behind the Golden State Warriors for first in the Western Conference.

Questions to answer

Has Kenneth Faried found new life?

How can the Nuggets climb back into games so effectively?

We are going to compare the Houston Rockets and the Denver Nuggets in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

Kenneth Faried Has Found A New Calling At Center

It wasn’t long ago that Faried was one of the hottest prospects in the NBA. When he was drafted in 2011, he filled the role of a typical raw power forward. He had energy for days, but his lack of discernible skill set limited him. When he was young it was thought that it could be developed, but in recent years it has held him back.

Since joining the Rockets, Faried has played more than 90% of his minutes at the centre position. When he was a rebounding power forward, his skills were offset by his lack of offensive ability. But now as the only traditional big on the court, he is able to focus on what he does best. That positional change has provided a career resurgence for Faried, averaging 14.3 points and 9.5 rebounds, all on 60% shooting per game since he became a Rocket.

In a way, it is similar to when the Houston Rockets fielded a big man duo of Luis Scola and Chuck Hayes. Hayes was not a skilled player by any means, but his intelligence, rebounding, and screening ability on the court complimented Scola’s skillful inside-outside game beauifully. Faried is now one of the fastest rim-runners in the NBA, who’s focus is solely on the glass and rim, and is being fed his looks by an MVP-calibre guard in James Harden.

The Nuggets Had No Business Beating the Grizzlies

When the Nuggets went down 25 in the second half, it seemed to just be “one of those nights” for the Nuggets. It happens to every team, sometimes your heart or your head just aren’t in it. The West is a tough conference and there’s talent in every team. Sometimes you’re not up to it and are down 25 and there’s not a way back. Enter Malik Beasley.

Malik Beasley was pure energy on the court when the Nuggets had to key in their run. After scoring back-to-back buckets to start the fourth quarter, the comeback began. It became a team effort in the fourth keyed in by Beasley’s intensity on offence and defence. He was a valuable option on the wing and closed in on many Grizzlies shooters on defence.

The Nuggets lead for only 34 seconds in the game against the Grizzlies. It is a testament to the discipline Malone has instilled in his team and the versatility he has in his players. The Nuggets can stay in any game and make adjustments on the fly. The Rockets will need to be ready to counter and changes made by Malone, as the young Nuggets have a plethora of options on their bench waiting to be set free.

Houston Rockets Roster Notes

C Clint Capela – 18 Jan 2019 – Out (Right Thumb) – The Rockets announced that Capela had successful surgery on his right thump. He’s expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks.

Denver Nuggets Roster Notes

G Jamal Murray – 28 Jan 2019 – Day To Day (Ankle) – Murray was ruled OUT for Monday’s (Jan 28) game.

F Michael Porter – 6 Dec 2018 – Out (Back) – Porter Jr. is still without a timetable for return, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

G Isaiah Thomas – 10 Jan 2019 – Out (Hip) – Thomas has not played this season and no timetable has been announced for his return.

Head-to-Head: Eric Gordon vs Gary Harris

Eric Gordon

Shooting Guard | 6-4, 215lb (193cm, 97kg) | Indiana | Exp. 11 Years

16.3 PPG | 2.1 APG | 2.7 RPG | 0.6 SPG | 0.4 BPG | 1.5 TOV | .385 FG% | .317 3P%

Gary Harris

Shooting Guard | 6-4, 210lb (193cm, 95kg) | Michigan State | Exp. 5 Years

15.0 PPG | 2.7 APG | 3.1 RPG | 0.9 SPG | 0.4 BPG | 1.2 TOV | .433 FG% | .320 3P%

It is a match-up of the secondary scorers when Houston and Denver face off. Eric Gordon and Gary Harris both maintain the task of being secondary playmaker and scorer for their squad. Both players have taken a step back this year in order to provide more opportunities for their teammates, but both will have to step up in this game to make up for possible rotation limitations.

With Clint Capela out of the lineup, Eric Gordon has done a superb job as of late to support Harden’s scoring prowess. Despite a blip on the radar against the Sixers, Gordon has scored 20+ points in four of his last six matches. In the last four wins, Gordon has shot more than 40% from the field. He’ll look to maintain that rate against the defensively adept Denver Nuggets.

Gary Harris has been excellent for the Nuggets this year. While his offensive production is down in comparison to last year, it is due to him taking a step back in order to allow Jokic to become the primary playmaker. While Harris’ shooting has been as lethal as last season, he is still a capable slasher and solid defender on the wing. He’ll be tasked with defending Gordon while also contributing on the offensive end in light of Jamal Murray’s nagging injury.

Houston Rockets at Denver Nuggets Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the Denver Nuggets favoured over the Houston Rockets by 4.5, with an over/under of 110.