The Denver Nuggets got a much deserved three days off after playing seven games in ten nights. Tonight they’ll hop back in the saddle with a matchup with the Houston Rockets. Houston currently is riding a five game win streak and has surprised many early in the season. They are lead by big man Alperen Sengun who is surrounded by a nice mixture of promising youth (Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr.) and solid veteran acquisitions (Fred VanVleet, Dillon Brooks). Houston has a capable head coach as well in Ime Udoka who is benefitting from a fresh start after his ousting in Boston. The Rockets five game streak has come entirely at home and they’ll be looking to upset the Nuggets to finish off a perfect homestand.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (8-1) at Houston Rockets (5-3)

When: 5:00 PM MST

Where: Toyota Center. Houston, TX.

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy…unless it’s the romanticized 18th century type. Altitude TV where available (Altitude TV is available on DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and Fubo TV). NBA League Pass for non-Nuggets market viewers. Altitude Radio 92.5FM. Tell security you’re here with a pair of Jordans to replace Jalen Green’s Adidas per the request of MJ himself.

Rival Blog: The Dream Shake

The Matchup

Injury Report: Jamal Murray – out (hamstring), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee), Jay Huff – out (G-League), Hunter Tyson – out (G-League); Victor Oladipo – out (knee), Amen Thompson – out (ankle), Nate Hinton – out (G-League), Jermaine Samuels Jr. – out (G-League), Cam Whitmore – out (G-League).

The three things

Key matchup: Alperen Sengun vs Nikola Jokic

Apr 4, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) controls the ball as Houston Rockets center Alperen Sengun (28) defends during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s is such a thing as Jokic-lite in this league then it’s Sengun. The Turkish center has great footwork and touch in the post, fantastic passing and playmaking ability and scores with great efficiency. Sounds very familiar doesn’t it? Indeed, Alperen pretty much does everything Jokic does, save for three point shooting, but just doesn’t do it as well as Nikola. That’s no knock on Sengun at all of course, Jokic is just in a world of his own. Sengun’s had a fantastic start to the season though and is establishing himself as the best player on what is sizing up to be a pretty talented roster. He won’t shut Jokic down but he can do his best to keep pace and if he does that it might just trigger a Rockets upset.

The thing to remember: Some personal connections in this one.

This will be the first game the Nuggets play against their now former teammate Jeff Green. Green left this offseason when he was offered a two year deal (second year non-guaranteed) with the Rockets while the Nuggets went young in his role and elevated Peyton Watson to the every day rotation. It seems like a win-win early one. Green got paid more than he was going to get from the Nuggets and is a regular part of Houston’s rotation and Watson has so far shown he is deserving of the bigger role the Nuggets gave him. We’ve also got some brotherly love tonight as Justin Holiday’s brother Aaron plays for Houston as well. Justin found himself in the rotation on Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors after rookie Julian Strawther struggled with defense, while Aaron is regularly getting 15-20 minutes a night with Houston. Not sure if it will happen but it would be fun to see the two brothers go at each other for a little bit tonight.

The thing to bet: A double dip defense parlay – 1+ blocks Aaron Gordon & 1+ steals Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (+115)

You won’t get great odds for a single Aaron Gordon block (-200) and KCP’s steal line is 1.5, but over at Bet MGM you can pair one AG block and one KCP steal to get you to +115. Gordon has a block in every game but one this season (Utah Jazz) and KCP has a steal in every single game this season. I like the chances of both of those things happening again tonight.