In one of two big games being played tonight, the Houston Rockets will square off against the Denver Nuggets. Both teams have overcome slow starts to the season to put them near the top of the Western Conference standings. This is yet another tale of great offense meets lockdown defense. The Nuggets will surely have their hands full dealing with the league’s best scorer tonight.
Houston Rockets (11-3) @ Denver Nuggets (9-3)
While the Rockets have won a lot of their games thanks to James Harden and his offense, their defense has been a strong point as of late. It seems that Russell Westbrook is a much better running mate than Chris Paul and their two ball-dominant playstyles haven’t clashed. Once Houston finally gets their shooting percentages up, there won’t be any team in the league that can match them.
- The Rockets are currently on a fantastic 8-game winning streak.
- Houston has been great on the road this year, sitting at 5-2.
- James Harden is the heart of the Rockets with his inhuman averages of 2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 7.6 assists, and 1.6 steals. His shooting percentages have improved lately, upping him to 42.5% shooting from the field and 34% from downtown.
- Clint Capela is also vital to their success. He is averaging 1 points, 13.1 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks on 64.2% shooting. More importantly, he anchors the defense and is a force in the paint.
- Houston fields one of the best offenses in the league despite poor shooting percentages and assist numbers. They lead the league in points per game (5) and free throw attempts (28.9).
- They are in the bottom 10 for field goal shooting (2%), 3-point shooting (34.1%), and assists (21.1).
- The Rockets have covered the point spread in their last 4 games and are 7-3 in their last 10.
The Nuggets do have a fairly good record so far, but it doesn’t tell the story of how disappointing they’ve been. Nikola Jokic is nowhere near his production from last season and it’s having a direct impact on Denver’s offense. For a team with aspirations of reaching the Western Conference Finals, they’ll need their star to resume producing at an MVP level. Playing against one of the league’s best rim-protectors in Clint Capela will definitely make that difficult.
- The Nuggets have won their last 2 games and are 6-1 in their last 7.
- Denver is currently 4-2 at home this season.
- Their entire starting lineup is averaging double digit scoring: Murray (2), Jokic (16.4), Barton (14.8), Millsap (14.1), and Harris (10.7).
- The Nuggets need Nikola Jokic to stay aggressive and engaged to win games. He is averaging just 4 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 6 assists per game on 45.3% shooting. All of these numbers are far down from his averages in the 2 prior seasons.
- Denver’s strength is their consistent defense. The are 4th-best in the league for lowest opponent scoring per game (9) and rank in the top 10 for poorest opponent field goal shooting (42.9%) and 3-point shooting (32%).
- Their weakness is a sluggish offense. They are in the bottom 10 of the NBA for scoring per game (9) and field goal shooting (44%).
- The Nuggets have covered the point spread in their last 2 games, but are just 5-5 in their last 10.
Pick: Houston Rockets +2.0
When the clash between a great defensive team and a scorching offense team happens, it is usually the defensive team that tends to come out on top. Then again, this matchup features the Houston Rockets, who don’t play offense like typical teams do. They don’t need to shoot the ball well to run opponents out of the arena. When they do, the game quickly gets out of hand. Nobody can stop James Harden this year and he’s starting to heat up. You should take the points and bet on the Houston Rockets winning tonight.