The Denver Nuggets host the Houston Rockets as the two teams square off for the third time in Denver’s past eight games, and Denver is still looking for their first victory of the season in the matchup. The Nuggets play their third game in four nights while the Rockets are on a back-to-back after losing to the Dallas Mavericks and getting eliminated from the in-season tournament. The Nuggets are hoping to sustain their immaculate vibes after Reggie Jackson and DeAndre Jordan let Denver to victory over the Los Angeles Clippers and to capitalize on Houston’s road woes to mete out some revenge for the two losses Houston has already handed them this year. Let’s hope Denver is healthy enough for a revenge tour.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (12-6) vs Houston Rockets (8-7)

When: 7:00 PM MST

Where: The Can. Denver, CO.

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 & Fubo TV). NBA League pass for those not in the Nuggets market. Altitude Radio 92.5FM. Dress up in an Astronaut costume and claim to be part of Houston’s halftime dunk entourage.

Rival Blog: The Dream Shake

Injury Report: Peyton Watson – probable (illness), Hunter Tyson – questionable (illness),
Nikola Jokic – questionable (back), Aaron Gordon – questionable (heel), Jamal Murray – QUESTIONABLE (hamstring), Vlatko Cancar – out (back); Victor Oladipo – out (left patellar tendon repair) Amen Thompson – out (right ankle sprain)


The Three Things

The key matchup: The Nuggets vs the Injury Report

Look, nobody loved watching Reggie Jackson and DeAndre Jordan dismantle the Clippers more than I did, but it would be nice if Denver could get back two of their three injured starters for this game. Nikola Jokic, Aaron Gordon and Jamal Murray all missed that Clippers victory, and let’s be honest: Denver’s odds are always better with those guys on the floor. Of the three of them, Murray is the most intriguing as his status has finally changed on the official injury report from OUT to QUESTIONABLE. Even if he doesn’t make it back for this game, his near return enhances Denver’s roster significantly.

But feel free to make it back for this game, Jamal – and take it easy on the long leg muscles.

The thing to remember: This is strength vs weakness when it comes to the venue.

The Nuggets are unbeaten at home, posting a perfect 8-0 so far and feeding off energy from the Ball Arena crowd (as well as some good sleep in their own beds, likely). The Rockets are also perfect on the season, but in the other direction – going 0-5 on the road so far including Tuesday’s loss to Dallas. Denver needs to use its home court and run a Rockets team that just lost a shootout and had to travel to Denver, albeit only from Texas. The Nuggets have a chance to get some payback for that disastrous outing three games ago in Houston where Denver shot 34% from the field and couldn’t throw the ball in the Gulf of Mexico. If there was any team that Denver needs to play Denver Basketball against, the Rockets are it – health permitting.

The thing to bet: Spread / Total of DEN -5.5 / Over 216.5 at +270

With so many players questionable it’s hard to know what to bet because who is available will determine so much of the style and output for the game. But assuming that Jokic plays (I do) then running the Rockets out of fuel at altitude seems like a good way to both hit the Over and the Spread totals for a decent payout.

Prediction: Nuggets win 118-110. And something great will happen that I won’t jinx by predicting it here.