(Photo Via: Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nuggets will look to avoiding dropping fourth straight game for first time since January 2017.
After getting off to their best start in franchise history, the Nuggets have cooled off with three straight losses. As bad as their 9-4 record seems to some Nuggets fans now, it does not represent the end of the world. All three games (in Memphis, versus Brooklyn, and versus Milwaukee) were tied with less than two minutes to go. While this does represent a lack of finishing ability in recent games, it doesn’t mean that Denver has fallen far from the high expectations they created for themselves.
The path back to winning basketball starts tonight at the Pepsi Center as the Houston Rockets come to town. Just two months ago this would have seemed to be Carmelo Anthony’s seventh return to Denver since being traded to the Knicks. Now with Carmelo’s time in Houston seemingly coming to an end and the announcement of the Nuggets’ new rainbow skyline jerseys the narrative has changed.
With Carmelo Anthony missing tomorrow’s game vs. Denver with illness (and possibly getting waived), Melo will still have never won a game in Denver since being traded. He’s 0-6 since the 2011 deal.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) November 13, 2018
Elements of past Nuggets teams will still be a part of the game tonight as Marcus Camby returns to the Pepsi Center to be honored. Outside of Camby, this will be the Nuggets first game wearing the “City Edition” rainbow skyline jersey and playing on the court with the alternate skyline logo.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) November 13, 2018
As for the game itself, Houston is still struggling to find themselves this season. Of their five wins they’ve only beat one Western Conference team, the Los Angeles Lakers in the Paul-Rondo fight game. Otherwise, Houston has managed to squeak out some close victories against the Pacers, Nets (twice), and Bulls, but they’ve hardly shown any offensive consistency.
Part of the problem for them has been having a healthy team. Now with Harden and Paul back together the Rockets resemble themselves a little more, but the depth that they lost from last year in order to fund their failed Carmelo Anthony trial has hurt them.
This is a great time for the Nuggets to pick up a much needed win against a team that swept them in the regular season last year, losing by an average of 28 points per game on the road. Denver did play Houston much closer at home and the hope is that the home success the Nuggets have previously shown plus the fuel of trying to avoid a fourth straight loss is enough tonight.
I briefly mentioned Houston’s depth but it’s worth noting that this should be a major difference in this game. As opposed to Denver’s bench, which goes five deep effectively, the Rockets only played three reserves Sunday against the Pacers and two of them played more than 30 minutes. A Nuggets bench that has been stellar in just about every area should take advantage of their time in, but the starters need to make sure they come back out of each break sharp, unlike the Milwaukee loss.
Tonight’s game tips off at 7:00 p.m. (MST) at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The game will air on Altitude TV and NBA League Pass.
Houston Rockets Projected Starters
PG – Chris Paul
SG – James Harden
SF – James Ennis III
PF – P.J. Tucker
C – Clint Capela
Denver Nuggets Projected Starters
PG – Jamal Murray
SG – Gary Harris
SF – Juancho Hernangomez
PF – Paul Millsap
C – Nikola Jokic
This game and matchup with the Rockets has an entirely different feel than last year. This year you feel like Denver is just a better team than Houston at this point and the home energy should be enough for the Nuggets to get the victory.
The matchups with Paul, Harden, and Capela seem to check out with how Denver’s defense has been playing so far this year and offensively the Nuggets seemed to find something against Milwaukee, even if there were still some hiccups. If Denver doesn’t allow a first quarter explosion like they’ve been allowing over the last week (allowing an average of 32.5 points per game) then they won’t have to find themselves playing catch-up either which will be key in avoiding another home letdown.