Tonight is going to be a little different, however, because the Nuggets are going to have both AI and ‘Melo, but no J.R. Smith.
The Rockets are a team that have run into a rough patch of road here in the last six games. Losers of four of their last six; the Rockets have not been playing their typical brand of defense and have allowed teams to score over 100 points with more regularity than in earlier stretches of the season. In addition, Houston has had trouble scoring in this past stretch of games too. Against the state rival Mavericks the Rockets could only produce 77 points in a loss and against the Celtics the Rockets once again struggled to put the ball in the basket and could only muster a meager 72 total points in another defeat.
What I feel tonight’s game is going to come down to is how the Nuggets play defense against the supporting cast of the Rockets. We all know that Tracy McGrady is essentially unstoppable when he gets hot, but it is guys like Shane Battier, Rafer Alston, and second year player Luther Head that will be paramount for the Nugget to control. In the first meeting that the Nuggets were defeated in Battier, “Skip“, and Head combined for 55 points on 17-40 shooting. In the Nuggets’ win, the trio was slightly less effective combining for 45 points on a similar 16-41. Those ten points made the world of difference.
We are all aware of the fact that the Nuggets are the only team in the NBA which have not won a single game when they do not score 100 points, so my final game note is the final score. If the Nuggets can post their season average of 105 points per game I think they will be the victors. Anything less and tonight’s game is just too close to call. I will say this though… Nene has not played well against the Rockets in either of the two previous meetings. If “Big Brazil” can come out and be a force I think the Nuggets chances of grounding the Rockets increase dramatically. He is a very unique combination of size, strength, and quickness and when I look at the Rockets’ roster. I do not see anyone that can guard him if he is on his game.
Let’s go, Nuggets, time to take advantage of Houston having problems!