Wednesday night features two Western Conference contenders facing each other as the Denver Nuggets will head to Houston to face a struggling Rockets team.
The Nuggets are coming off a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday. Michael Porter Jr. was a huge factor in this one, posting his second double-double in two games.
The Rockets suffered an uncharacteristic loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, as James Harden had a tough night, shooting 1-of-17 from three and allowing the Thunder to come back from a large deficit.
Even with the Rockets struggling recently, they are still 6.5-point favorites in this one. Can they cover, or will Denver pull off an upset in Houston?
Sneaking Up On The Lakers
Denver comes into Wednesday night tied for third in the Western Conference, currently trying to chase down the Los Angeles Lakers who are four games up on Denver and the Utah Jazz. After a couple of close wins, the Nuggets will try to repeat their recent success against the Rockets.
Although Denver has been winning recently, the wins haven’t been pretty, and the level of its competition worries me. The Nuggets were just barely able to beat the 9-34 Golden State Warriors by three points and needed extra time to do so.
Even Denver’s win on Monday night against the Timberwolves was unimpressive, with such tight games against teams like the Warriors and Timberwolves makes me consider whether they’ll be able to handle Russell Westbrook and James Harden.
I know most would say they still have Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr., who have been carrying the load for this Nuggets team recently, but I just have second thoughts about how they’ll fare against the Rockets’ offense.
Against the spread, the Nuggets have done well recently, going 6-4 in their last 10 games. However, Denver has an awful record against the Rockets. The last time these two teams played, the Nuggets were +6 and got blown out by 26. Not to mention, the Nuggets are 0-5 ATS in their last five games in Houston.
Trying To Right The Ship
The Rockets have hit a snag. In four straight games, they haven’t been able to put a checkmark in the win column. With a very uncharacteristic performance by Harden on Monday night, experts are worried about Houston.
After Monday night’s game, Harden spent 25 minutes on the court shooting to remedy his recent cold streak. Although the Rockets seem to be keeping spirits up on the surface, you can’t help but think this recent skid is hurting morale. This week, the Rockets face another tough Western Conference team and will look to change the narrative.
Austin Rivers could potentially be out in this one, so keep that in mind when thinking about how to bet. Although they’ve had a tough stretch against the spread recently, the Rockets have done well covering against Denver, especially at home.
Pick and Prediction
So, I like the Nuggets. With players like Jokic and Porter, this is a team that I believe will do well in the playoffs.
Unfortunately, what makes me less confident in the Nuggets is how their margin of victory has been so small against teams that aren’t even nearly as good as the Rockets. With the level of talent the Nuggets have, it’s tough to imagine them barely beating the Warriors and Timberwolves, but it’s the truth. Now they’ll have to travel down from Minneapolis to Houston to face a team in desperate need of a win.
Most people will probably disagree with me when I tell them to take the Rockets in this one. The truth is the Rockets have been struggling, but Harden knows how important these games are and will look to take the game into his own hands.
Look for Harden to have a huge game on Wednesday night and finally get the Rockets back to winning. Take Houston -6.5.