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Preview: The Shorthanded Nuggets Prepare for Skidding Rockets

Houston Rockets v Denver Nuggets

The very, very healthy and whole Denver Nuggets (17-16) are set to go against the actually fairly healthy Houston Rockets (10-26) tonight. The Nuggets have recently had a COVID outbreak in which a lot of their rotation players got wrapped up in. In light of this progression, the Nuggets have signed 2 new players to 10-day hardship contracts in Rayjon Tucker and Carlik Jones. They have also re-upped a recent 10-day signing in Davon Reed. They are all expected to play tonight just so the Nuggets can field the necessary eight players for game action.

The Rockets on the other hand are currently on a 6 game losing streak, and are 2-8 in their last 10 overall. They had briefly put together a win streak, but they have returned to the atmosphere now. Rookie Jalen Green has recently come back from injury and has been playing fairly well, with their only notable injuries really being Garrison Matthews in health and safety protocols, and Alperen Sengun with an ankle injury where he is listed as day to day.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (17-16) vs Houston Rockets (10-26)

When: 6:00 PM MST

Where: Ball Arena, Denver, CO

How to Watch: AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up in Denver. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio.

Rival Blog: The Dream Shake

Injuries: (Oh lord) Michael Porter Jr (Back), Jamal Murray (Knee), PJ Dozier (knee), Markus Howard (knee), Jeff Green (Health and Safety Protocols), Zeke Nnaji (Health and Safety Protocols), Bones Hyland (Health and Safety Protocols), and Monte Morris (Health and Safety Protocols) are all OUT. Austin Rivers (Thumb), Aaron Gordon (Hamstring), and Vlatko Cancar (Non-COVID Related Illness) are all QUESTIONABLE. As for the Rockets you have D.J. Augustin (Health and Safety Protocols), Garrison Matthews (Health and Safety Protocols), and Dejon Jarreau (Health and Safety Protocols) are all OUT. Alperen Sengun (Ankle) is QUESTIONABLE.

Three Things to Watch

Can the hardship guys make an impact?

We’ve already seen Davon Reed make an impact which has lead me and many others to think he should be a part of the permanent roster. I’d look to see if either Rayjon Tucker or Carlik Jones can make a similar impact and potentially land themselves a second 10-day or something more. It’s going to be an interesting look to see what they can bring to the table, as they’re sure to have plenty of opportunity with all the injuries and COVID cases stacked up in Denver. They’re both athletic players so we will see if the Nuggets can make good use of that athleticism before.

Will Barton Bounce Back?

Will Barton has struggled as of late, but last game was a return to form for the veteran as he put up 21 points on 7/15 shooting last game. It was great to see him look like he did to start the year, and like the player we all know he can be. I want to see him put up at least 20 because the Rockets aren’t a good team, and he is going to have a lot more shots and responsibility this game with everyone out.

I’d look for him to get going early, and show a vintage Thrill night. He should put up upwards of 20 points and 5 assists in my mind. Not just because of how injured everyone is, but also because of just how good of a player Will Barton can be when healthy.

Can Jokic Abuse Houston’s Centers?

The past couple of games have looked great in box score numbers for Jokic, but if you watched he was missing a lot of easy shots he normally makes, and has had bad stretches that are uncharacteristic of the reigning MVP. I’d look for him to abuse the lackluster big man rotation that Houston has, especially if Sengun is out. He should have a great game, and hopefully lead the Nuggets to a relatively easy win.