With so many key Nuggets being sidelined on Wednesday, the Houston Rockets must use this opportunity to get things back on track.
The Denver Nuggets will be severely shorthanded when they travel to face the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, and that might be just what Space City needs to right the ship. At 30-13, the Nuggets are currently third in the Western Conference and have won 7 of their last 10 games.
On Monday, however, Denver’s 107-100 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves came with a price, as backup center Mason Plumlee injured his right foot. It was determined Wednesday morning that he will miss two-to-four weeks due to the unfortunate injury.
Plumlee joins a growing list of injuries to the Nuggets, as Jamal Murray (ankle) will also be out of action, as well as Paul Millsap (knee) and possibly Gary Harris (groin). Harris is officially listed as doubtful, but if he indeed misses the game along with the other three, that’s 48 points of offense Denver will be missing.
The Rockets have been losing to teams with much worse records than them during this streak, so nothing should be taken for granted as they host Denver. They still will have their star center, Nikola Jokic, who leads the team in points and assists per game at 19.4 and 6.3, respectively. The 7-foot Serbian has averaged 24 points in the two contests with Houston so far as the teams each won on their homecourt.
Having lost five of six games, Mike D’Antoni certainly must be thinking of adjustments he should be making that can change the course of the season. At least, that’s what we should be hoping. After the team’s most recent loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the second time, Coach D’Antoni didn’t seem to have a problem with James Harden‘s 1-for-17 night from beyond the arc. That, in itself, is a real problem.
With the way the Rockets are playing as of late, they cannot afford for their superstar to hijack the majority of the team’s field goal attempts when it’s not falling for him. There’s no doubt Harden has been in a slump lately and he needs to play through it, but that can be done without hoisting up 15-plus threes per game.
Houston also desperately needs Eric Gordon to begin returning to his old self to give the team more variety in their offense. As good as Russell Westbrook and Harden usually are, the way they are shooting the ball can’t be the single deciding factor between a Rockets’ win or loss.
The most important things the Rockets need to show on Wednesday are heart and hustle. Houston outrebounded Denver 58-47 in their last meeting and outscored them 24-9 on the fastbreak. With the Nuggets missing Plumlee and Murray, that should help the Rockets control these areas once again.
It’s time for the Houston Rockets to take some pride and show their home crowd, and their entire fanbase, that they are willing to put in the work to make this team a contender once again.