Houston Rockets: 3 keys to defeating the Denver Nuggets

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 05: Nene Hilario
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 05: Nene Hilario /

The Houston Rockets are looking to win their third game in a row on Wednesday night.

The Rockets (13-4) are sitting pretty at the top of the Western Conference as we approach the 20 game mark. They have an MVP favorite in James Harden playing the best basketball of his career and a Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul returning from injury.

The Nuggets (10-7) come into tonight after dominating the Sacramento Kings last time out. Though Denver coach Mike Malone was suspended for the game and forward Paul Millsap is out for a significant amount of time, they were still able to score 114 points.

The Rockets will need to come out firing in what is sure to be a shootout. Let’s look at the injury report and then the 3 keys to the game:

Injury Report

Paul Millsap is the big injury for the Nuggets. He is out for around 3 months after wrist surgery. Also for Denver, Wilson Chandler is probable to play.

For the Rockets, Ryan Anderson was sick yesterday but is expected to play tonight. Eric Gordon is questionable with calf soreness. We’ll see closer to game time if he will suit up.

Key No. 1: Get back in transition

The transition defense of the Rockets has struggled at times this season. With a team as offensively talented as the Nuggets, the Rockets will need to get back in transition or they will get burned all night.

Chris Paul’s defense should help in that regard tonight as he will likely play more minutes. Hopefully, the rest of the team can follow suit and shut down the Nuggets’ offense.

Key No. 2: Win the defensive rebounds battle

Overall, the Nuggets are a better rebounding team than the Rockets. Jokic, who we’ll get to in a minute, and the rest of the big men on the Nuggets are all great at rebounding the basketball. The Rockets will need to slow them down there and stop them from getting offensive rebounds. That’s no small task for the Rockets as they go against the No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the league.

Key No. 3: Slow down the Joker

Nikola Jokic is someone the Rockets cannot let beat them. He is an absolute beast and the Rockets will have trouble stopping him. Houston will have to at least slow him down and contain him. One team that did that recently was Portland, who held him to just 6 points and 7 rebounds. They did that by putting the big body of Nurkic on defense against Jokic. Clint Capela and Nene will need to do that tonight and keep the Joker under control.

Projected Starting Lineups/How to Watch


Chris Paul/James Harden/Trevor Ariza/Ryan Anderson/Clint Capela


Gary Harris/Jamal Murray/Will Barton/Wilson Chandler (Kenneth Faried, possibly)/Nikola Jokic

Tonight’s game will be on AT&T Sportsnet Southwest. You can follow along as always on the Rockets app as well. The game is at Toyota Center at 7 p.m. CT.

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*All stats via theScore*

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