The Rockets (11-3) have quieted the skeptics by winning eight in a row following a 3-3 start to come into this matchup in second place in the Western Conference standings. Houston has yet to lose a game against a Western Conference opponent (8-0) and they are 5-2 on the road in seven games away from the Toyota Center. Meanwhile, Denver enters Wednesday’s game in third place with a 9-3 overall record through 12 games. Can the Nuggets stop the red-hot Rockets at home on Wednesday?
Harden putting offensive arsenal on displayHouston pushed its current winning streak to eight games on Tuesday, taking down the Portland Trail Blazers 132-108. James Harden finished with 36 points while Russell Westbrook had 28 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for the Rockets, who have not lost since Nov. 3.
Through 13 games, the combination of Westbrook and Harden has been enough to mask Houston’s flaws. Harden, who is in the midst of one of the best offensive seasons in the last 60 years, has put fear in opponents with his sheer scoring ability. Through 14 games, the Rockets’ star is scoring 39.2 points per game, shaking off a slow start from the field to enter with respectable shooting percentages. Harden comes into this matchup missing more 3-pointers per game (9.4) than any other player in the league has attempted. He’s averaging a league-high 14.3 attempts from deep per contest, which is going to be scary for the league once his shooting percentages regress back towards his career averages. In 10 November games, Harden is scoring 40.2 points while shooting 44.2 percent from the floor and 38.4 percent from 3-point range.
Is James Harden gonna make @ZachLowe_NBA pay off his bet to Tracy McGrady? Zach is already getting nervous and not above using inside influence to try to sway the results😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/WMiHxXUn0k— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) November 20, 2019
The Rockets waived veteran forward Ryan Anderson on Monday after he appeared in only two of the team’s first 14 games. The 31-year-old was a key starter for the Rockets from 2016-2018 but he’s struggled to rekindle his stroke from long-range since leaving the franchise. He shot just 22.5 percent from deep with the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat in 2018-19 and that number was down to just 20 percent in two games with the Rockets this year.
Houston comes into Wednesday’s matchup ranked as the NBA’s best offensive team with an offensive rating of 112.7 through 14 contests. They also rank fifth in the league in net rating at +5.5 so far this year.
Barton turning into a star in DenverJamal Murray exploded for 39 points in a 131-114 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night to help the Nuggets win for the sixth time in their last seven games. Paul Milsap added 23 points for Denver, which shot 18-for-32 from long-range and got 46 points from its bench in the win. Murray was fresh off a 1-for-11 performance against Brooklyn but bounced back with a big game, finishing with a season-high in points to go along with eight assists and zero turnovers in three quarters of action. He did not play in the fourth with Denver hanging on to a comfortable 28-point lead.
Through 12 games, Will Barton has been arguably the Nuggets’ most important player. The 3-and-D swingman has taken hold of the starting small forward job in Denver by scoring 14.8 points and averaging 7.4 rebounds per game while shooting 46.2 percent from 3-point range.
Will Barton GLASSED Josh Hart ✋ pic.twitter.com/LKv6Ll4zFS— ESPN (@espn) March 7, 2019
While Barton has taken a step forward in his development, fellow backcourt mate Gary Harris has seen his scoring average dip for the second straight season. Once considered one of the best two-way guards in the NBA, Harris is averaging just 10.7 points on 41.3 percent shooting from the field, both of which are his lowest marks since his rookie season in 2014-15.
- Rockets are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games overall.
- Rockets are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Rockets are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 vs. Western Conference.
- Nuggets are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 home games.
- Nuggets are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. NBA Southwest.
- Nuggets are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.