The Denver Nuggets (12-7) are back after a couple of days off following a brief road trip last week. They’re home for a short two-game homestand against the Houston Rockets (5-14) before they head back out on the road. Following some struggles while dealing with injuries to just about every rotation player they had, they’ve won their last two games and find themselves near the top of the Western Conference.

Denver is only 6-4 in their last 10 games, but those four losses came while the team was struggling with players that were either hurt, sick or a combination of the two. On the year, they’ve consistently looked like one of the league’s best when they’ve been at full strength, and we’ve even seen that they haven’t reached their full potential yet.

For Houston, it’s been a rough start to the season. They’ve won just five games, although they are 4-6 in their last 10, and they’re currently riding a two-game winning streak coming into tonight. They have a ton of young talent, and that’s what they’re focused on developing this season. They weren’t planning to win titles. Instead, they were focused on improving their young players for the future.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (12-7, 4-2 home) vs Houston Rockets (5-14, 2-9 away)

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. 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

Expected Starting Lineups:

HOU: PG Kevin Porter, SG Jalen Green, SF Eric Gordon, PF Jabari Smith, C Bruno Fernando

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Bruce Brown, PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Collin Gillespie (leg), Michael Porter Jr. (heel), Jeff Green (knee), Bones Hyland (illness), Bruno Fernando (knee), Jae’Sean Tate (ankle)

Three Things to Watch

Slow Down Jalen Green

Entering tonight, second-year guard Jalen Green leads the Rockets in points per game at 21.8. He’s only shooting 43 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from 3-point range, but, during the team’s two-game winning streak, he’s shot 21-of-36 from the floor, 9-of-18 from 3-point range while averaging 29 points per game. In the team’s five wins this season, he has just one where he scored fewer than 25 points. Keeping him in check will be important.

Aaron Gordon Night

Arguably the Nuggets’ second-best player over the last week has been Aaron Gordon, and he can even push for the team’s best player with his recent play. In his last three games, he’s shot 29-of-42 from the field, 7-of-12 from 3-point range while averaging 25.6 points per game. The Rockets are allowing 21.9 points per game to opposing power forwards this season, and Gordon could really thrive in this matchup.

Get Jamal Murray Going

Since returning to the floor this season, star guard Jamal Murray just hasn’t quite found his groove yet. He’s averaging 16.4 points per game, but his slashline of .420/.342/.771 is leaving a fair bit to be desired. This is a matchup we could see him turn some of that around. The Rockets are in the bottom five in points allowed to point guards and shooting guards. Murray is going to be the guy he was prior to his injury quite yet, but it’d be nice to see him get some easy buckets to get his feet under him.