To say that the Houston Rockets have taken a huge step back to start the 2018/19 season would be a huge understatement. After finishing last season with the best record in all of the NBA, this year they have sputtered out to just a 5-7 start after winning 115-103 over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday. For the Nuggets, they have gotten out to a respectable 9-4 record, although they have lost 3 in a row after starting the season 9-1. The two teams will square off on Tuesday night when the Rockets travel to the Pepsi Center to take on the Nuggets. Tipoff is scheduled for 9:00 pm ET.
By The Numbers
According to basketball-reference, the Houston Rockets currently rank 21st in adjusted offensive rating (estimate of points scored per 100 possessions adjusted for strength of opponents defense) at 106.71 points while the Denver Nuggets rank 9th at 112.07 points. In terms of adjusted defensive rating, the Rockets have the 14th lowest total at 109.33 points while the Nuggets rank 4th at 104.94 points. While the Nuggets have had a seemingly stronger offensive and defensive unit, the trend over the last several games is still worrisome as the Nuggets have shown some struggles.
Rockets Looking To Get Back On Track
It is has been a roller coaster of a season thus far for the Houston Rockets, and that ride has continued with the Carmelo Anthony saga. After signing the power forward in the offseason, many questioned how he would fit in Mike D’Antoni’s high-powered offense, especially with the likes of Chris Paul and James Harden as the two established superstars. While there are conflicting reports coming out of GM Daryl Morey and other press releases, it appears that Carmelo’s time with the Rockets may be coming to a close.
As for the rest of the team, the Rockets once again are looking to Harden as the primary scoring option. On the season, Harden is averaging 27.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists. The other side of the two-headed monster, Chris Paul has also had a nice start to the season. He is averaging 17.3 points per game, 5.2 rebounds and 7.9 assists.
Aside from these two, regular contributors to the Rockets have been Eric Gordon (15.2 points per game), Clint Capela (15.6 points, 11.1 rebounds) and the aforementioned Carmelo Anthony (13.4 points, 5.4 rebounds per game). Especially with Anthony’s role diminishing, I would expect PJ Tucker to start producing a little more. Thus far, he is averaging 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Nuggets Trying To Shake Three Game Skid
After winning 9 of their first 10 games, the Nuggets have been coming down to Earth as of late. Still, the Nuggets have some nice pieces that have them sitting in third in the Western Conference thus far. They have six players who are averaging double-digit scoring led by guard Jamal Murray. On the season, Murray has been averaging 18 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Even with Murray’s success, Nikola Jokic is still the star of the team. The big man is averaging 17.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 6.9 assist per game through the first 13 games.
Outside of these two, Gary Harris (17.1 points, 3.7 rebounds), Will Barton (16.5 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists), Trey Lyles (10.9 points, 5.2 rebounds), and Paul Millsap (12.7 points, 7.5 rebounds) have been providing the support.
Rockets Win Tuesday Night
Even though the numbers tend to lean towards the Nuggets, I still have to go with the Rockets. There is something to be said about the three game slide that they have been on and James Harden finally looks to be rounding into form. He has led the Rockets in scoring for the last five games and last game, against the Pacers, went for 40 points and 9 assists. It could be close, but I like the Rockets to win on the road in this one.