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This Week in Nuggets: December 30th to January 5th

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Here’s what Nuggets fans can expect this week

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets games this week:

Tuesday, 12/31: Nuggets @ Houston Rockets (22-11)

A rematch against James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the Rockets to close out 2019. Harden and Clint Capela sat out due to injury and Westbrook rested during Sunday’s loss versus the New Orleans Pelicans (who have suddenly rattled off a win streak that makes Denver’s Christmas Day loss to NOP a little less disappointing). It remains to be seen if Harden and Capela will be ready to play, but I have a feeling they will be. In ay case, Westbrook will be looking for some revenge. Expect Torrey Craig to once again see some time to match up with Houston’s guard duo.

Thursday, 1/2: Nuggets @ Indiana Pacers (21-12)

Once again, the Indiana Pacers are underrated. Last year, it was due to Bojan Bogdanovic and his strong wing scoring. This year, the addition of Malcolm Brogdon and improved play of Domantas Sabonis as a starter has carried the day for Indiana. Denver matches up reasonably well with Indiana’s twin tower look as long as Paul Millsap can check Sabonis. If not, I suspect Mason Plumlee will see some extra minutes. This is a game Denver could steal.

Saturday, 1/4: Nuggets @ Washington Wizards (9-22)

The second matchup between these two, the Nuggets sleepwalked their way to a double digit victory in November over Washington, but traveling to Washington DC could prove to be a decent challenge this time around. That game was closer than it should have been as Jordan McRae piled up 21 points. I don’t expect that to happen again, but it doesn’t mean Bradley Beal or Davis Bertans couldn’t catch fire. Denver SHOULD win, and they may have to if they lose the two games above.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Injury Report: Paul Millsap and Gary Harris sit out

Millsap has dealt with a number of bumps and bruises over the last few weeks, ranging from a quad injury to what is now being described as a left knee contusion. Michael Malone said before Sunday’s game that he’s not worried about Paul’s health at all. Call it “Midseason-itis” if you wish, as the Nuggets have an opportunity to keep one of their most important players rested and ready for playoff action in April and May.

Gary Harris was a surprise addition to the injury report on Sunday though, and his placement on the injury report seemed abrupt. It’s possible that he had a bump from the previous game that developed into something slightly more serious, and Denver simply wanted to keep Harris ready for Tuesday’s game against the Rockets. That would be my personal guess. Still, it was a bit of an eyebrow raiser.

Nuggets bet of the week: NONE

It’s difficult to get a read on Denver right now, especially with two starters dealing with nagging injuries. If those guys come back, they would change the entire calculus of the predictions. If not, the Nuggets are probably a “stay away” team anyway because the back end of the rotation is so fluid and difficult to predict.

Nuggets DFS play of the week: Nikola Jokic vs Houston Rockets

Jokic is on absolute fire right now. One of his worst performances of the last 10 games was last night, in which he shot 7/8 from the field and 3/4 from the free throw line. If the Rockets start Capela, Jokic has a frame of reference for taking it to him after the previous matchup between these two teams. If Capela doesn’t play, they will be starting Isaiah Hartenstein, who I’m confident Jokic could go through whenever he wants to do so. Either way, the Nuggets are relying on Jokic a lot right now, so slot him into your lineups and reap the rewards.