The struggling Houston Rockets will take on the injury-plagued Denver Nuggets in an all-Western Conference affair on Saturday night. These sides have met twice already this season, with the Nuggets coming out on top on both occasions.
Fixture: Houston Rockets vs Denver Nuggets | NBA Season 2020-21
Date & Time: Saturday, April 24th, 10 PM ET (Sunday, 7:30 AM IST)
Venue: Ball Arena, Denver, CO
Houston Rockets Preview
Following the James Harden trade, most observers expect the Houston Rockets to decline, but no one expected them to have the worst record in the NBA. Things just haven't worked out for Stephen Silas' unit, which is currently dealing with a logjam of injuries. The Rockets have a few good individual performers but their inability to play cohesively is what has prevented them from winning games.
Kelly Olynyk is among the few Houston Rockets players who've managed to shine this season. Olynyk arrived via a mid-season trade and has been an offensive force since making the jump from the Miami Heat. He has averaged 17.8 points on 59.6% shooting in addition to 7.9 rebounds per game for the Rockets.
Christian Wood has also had a breakout year with the Houston Rockets this season, but injuries have somewhat slowed down his progress. Wood has averaged 21 points and 9.5 rebounds per game this season. He twisted his ankle in last night's loss against the LA Clippers and is unlikely to feature on Saturday. Even John Wall is expected to be rested against the Denver Nuggets.
Key Player - Jae'Sean Tate
With the Houston Rockets probably heading into this game with very little veteran presence, rookie Jae'Sean Tate will have the license to go for the kill. Tate has impressed everyone with his work rate on both ends of the court. He's averaging 11 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game this season. Tate managed 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting in the previous matchup against the Denver Nuggets.
Houston Rockets Predicted Lineup
G Armoni Brooks, G Jae'Sean Tate, F Danuel House Jr., F Kenyon Martin Jr., C Kelly Olynyk
Denver Nuggets Preview
The Denver Nuggets have taken significant strides since the NBA trade deadline and are currently seeded fourth in the Western Conference. They've been dealt with a couple of huge injury blows, though. Jamal Murray suffered a torn ACL last week, while Will Barton strained his hamstring against the Golden State Warriors on Friday.
Luckily enough, the Denver Nuggets will get a chance to regroup at home. The matchup against the Houston Rockets marks the beginning of a four-game homestand for them. The altitude seems to play in the favor of the Nuggets, who have a 20-10 home record this season.
The absence of both Murray and Barton will put increased responsibility on Michael Porter Jr., especially on offense. Porter has been up to the task lately, though. He's averaged 21.8 points and 7.9 rebounds through 12 games in April. New Denver Nuggets recruit Austin Rivers will also be asked to immediately get into the thick of things.
Key Player - Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic has already been playing out of his skin for the Denver Nuggets but now he'll have to amplify his production. The Joker has averaged 26.3 points, 10.9 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game this season. Almost everything on the offensive end goes through Jokic. He has scored a triple-double in each of the previous two fixtures against the Houston Rockets and will be looking to convert the hat-trick.
Denver Nuggets Predicted Lineup
G Facundo Campazzo, G PJ Dozier, F Michael Porter Jr., F Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic
Rockets vs Nuggets Match Prediction
This one is fairly straightforward. The Houston Rockets will be without their key players. While the youngsters taking over could mean a few exciting passages of play, you do expect the team to be committing a lot of errors. The Denver Nuggets will be missing important names too, but as long as Jokic is playing, they'll be alright. Expect the Nuggets to win this matchup.
Where to watch Rockets vs Nuggets?
Local coverage of this game will be available on AT&T SportsNet Southwest and Altitude Sports. You can also live stream the same via the NBA League Pass.