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Preview: Nuggets face Rockets in the Summer League playoffs

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The excitement is palpable

NBA: Utah Jazz-Media Day
Henry Sims, stokes about Summer League
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets remain winless in Summer League play, but are looking for their first as the league playoffs begin today. The 23rd-seeded Nuggets (better than the New Orleans Pelicans!) will face the 10th-seeded Houston Rockets again, this time in an elimination game. The top-8 teams get a bye to the second round. The Nuggets will be playing without Juancho Hernangomez, and at a very inconvenient-for-the-working-fan 2:30 PM Mountain Time tip-off, but would love to find a way to get that first win and keep playing.

The Basics:

Who: Denver Nuggets vs Houston Rockets

Where: Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas NV

When: 2:30 pm MT

How to watch: ESPNU

Rival Blog: The Dream Shake

Position Nuggets Rockets Advantage
PG Monte Morris Isaiah Taylor Rockets
SG Malik Beasley Chris Johnson Nuggets
SF Not Juancho Hernangomez Cameron Oliver Rockets
PF Tyler Lydon Troy Williams Rockets
C Petr Cornelie Zhou Qi Rockets
Bench ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Whatever

Things to look for

Someone to step up: With Hernangomez not expected to play thanks to Spanish National Team commitments, his Summer League should be done. That means there are front-court minutes for Tyler Lydon, Henry Sims, and Robert Carter Jr. Maybe Howard Sant-Roos can even get some time if his facemask arrives to protect his broken cheekbone. But so far it’s been a heavy slog for the non-NBAers. Any sort of breakthrough performance would help a player’s case for getting G League minutes or even two-way contract consideration. This might be their last chance to make that splash.

Monte Morris and Nikola Radicevic are also fighting for the right to be considered for the 17th roster spot, and a strong game for either could make that final case. Either man likely has a spot in Europe if he can’t stick with the Nuggets this season, but the NBA roster position may be sweeter even if it’s less lucrative this year.

Prospect to watch for: Today we’ll go with Torrey Craig. The small forward who’s been playing in Australia finally had a game where his offensive output matched his defensive energy, and was called “absolutely fabulous” by Micah Nori after the last game. He’s hunting one of those two-way contracts and trying to get an extended look like Axel Toupane did with the Nuggets two seasons ago. If he can have another game like that - as one of the focal points of the team with Hernangomez sitting out - it will raise his chances significantly.