Houston Rockets vs Nuggets: 2017-18 Game 18: Five things to watch

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 16: James Harden
PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 16: James Harden /

The 13-4 Houston Rockets will keep on trucking to face an improved 10-7 Denver Nuggets team tonight, here five things to keep your eyes peeled on.

The Houston Rockets are off to an impressive start and have all of the tools needed to be successful for a deep run through the season as well as the playoffs.  Their offense is hard to stop and their ball movement is better than ever.

But they’ll be facing a much-improved 10-7 Denver Nuggets team that has some nice pieces to be competitive.  Paul Millsap will be out tonight but it will be intriguing to see how the rest of the team responds to his absence.  It’s expected that Kenneth Faried and Juan Hernangomez will fill in for him while he’s out, however long that may be.

I actually think that this match up will be exciting to watch, considering both teams are great at being able to put points on the board.  This game will go into the triple-digits easily but when the dust settles, I presume our guys to be the victor.

1.) So who’s leading the charge for the Nuggets?

Nikola Jokic is the team’s scoring leader (15.6 PPG), top rebound man (11.4 RPG) and is the chief delivery strategist (4.4 APG).  Gary Harris holds the torch in steals (1.6 SPG) and Mason Plumlee in blocks (0.94 BPG).

2.) Let’s talk about what the Nuggets do well.

They’re quite elite with their offensive production.  The Nuggets are 5th in offensive efficiency, averaging 108.0 points per 100 possessions.

They have excellent ball movement.  The Nuggets are 9th in assist ratio, with 17.4 percent of their possessions ending with an assist.

They’re a solid rebounding team.  The Nuggets are 7th in rebound rate, taking down 52 percent of missed shots.  They’re also 2nd in offensive rebound rate (27.3).

They’re pretty good shooters as well.  The Nuggets are tied for 7th — with the Orlando Magic — in effective field goal percentage (53.2) and are 9th in true shooting percentage (56.3).

3.) Injuries:

Chris Paul has now returned back to the lineup, fully-recovered from a bruised knee that he suffered earlier in the season.  Paul is still limited to just 20 minutes per game to test his knee but I’m sure that’s going to change as time progresses.

Ryan Anderson has been battling an illness over the past few days but he’s expected to be

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available to play for tonight.

Paul Millsap sprained his left wrist this past Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers.  Although the X-Rays were negative, he has had surgery on that wrist and has been deemed out indefinitely.  Millsap will be sorely missed on their defensive as well as rebounding front and it will interesting to see how effective they are with him out.  This will put even more pressure on Jokic to perform.

Wilson Chandler sat out Monday’s game against the Kings because of lower back pain.  However, he’s expected to be available for tonight.

Source(s): Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Shams Charania of the Vertical and Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports

4.) Matchups to Watch:

  1. Clint Capela vs. Nikola Jokic
  2. Trevor Ariza vs. Wilson Chandler
  3. James Harden vs. Gary Harris

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5.) Prediction:

108-101 in a Houston Rockets’ win!

The Rockets are back at home to take on the Nuggets at Toyota Center.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST.

The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet Southwest and broadcast on SportsTalk 790 AM, Sirius 108, XM/SiriusXM 217 (Internet 890) and La Ranchera 101.7 FM (KNTE) & 850 AM (KEYH) in Spanish.

Go Rockets.