Nuggets-Rockets Betting Preview: Can Denver Keep Pace on the Road?

Nuggets-Rockets Betting Preview: Can Denver Keep Pace on the Road? article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13), Denver Nuggets Jamal Murray (27).

Betting Odds: Denver Nuggets-Houston Rockets

  • Spread: Rockets -5.5
  • Over/Under: 216.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: NBA TV

The Rockets and Nuggets face off in Houston for their final meeting of the season on Thursday. Both teams have played well as of late with the playoffs looming, but the Rockets have a chance to win the season series vs the Nuggets at home.

Can Denver slow down James Harden and Co.? Our analysts discuss.

What’s at Stake

The Warriors have a 0.5-game lead over the Nuggets for the top seed in the Western conference and Denver has a comfortable four-game lead over the Rockets for No. 2.

As Matt Moore wrote last week, the Nuggets have a strong chance to put even more distance between themselves and the scrappy Rockets tonight:

The Rockets lead 2-1 in the season series with the final meeting next week. If the Nuggets were to somehow win that (Houston has owned them the past three seasons), there’s a very good chance they also secure a tiebreaker based on conference record.

Also, with the Blazers nursing a major injury to Jusuf Nurkic, the Rockets are still very much in play for the No. 3 seed out West.

Betting Trends to Know

In the Rockets’ loss in Milwaukee, they shot 36.4% from the field, including 16-52 (30.8%) from 3-point range, while attempting fewer than 10 free throws as a team in consecutive games (25th team to shoot fewer than 10 FTA in consecutive games since 1973). This season, the Rockets have done a very good job at bouncing back after a poor shooting performance.

The Rockets have played 11 games this season directly after shooting below 40% from the field, Houston is 7-4 against the spread this season (including 5-1 ATS in its past six games) and 6-0 straight up and in this spot. — Evan Abrams

Bettors like the Rockets at home. More than 60% of spread tickets are on Houston -5.5 vs. Denver. Jame Harden & Co. have often disappointed the public this season going 21-33-3 (39%) ATS when receiving a majority of bets. — John Ewing

Mears: How I’m Handicapping Tonight’s Game

The biggest question for the Nuggets against the Rockets is defense. Here’s how the two offenses fared in the first three meetings this season:

Nov. 13: Rockets 122.5 ORtg, Nuggets 111.4 ORtg | Houston win
Jan. 7: Rockets 127.6 ORtg, Nuggets 115.3 ORtg | Houston win
Feb. 1: Rockets 122.5 ORtg, Nuggets 111.4 ORtg | Denver win

Even in the game the Nuggets won, the Rockets had no issues putting up points. In those three games, they ranked in the 84th, 92nd and 95th percentiles of offensive performances. It took a 99th percentile offensive performance — 154.5 points per 100 possessions (!!) — from Denver in the most recent meeting to get a victory.

In those games, Houston slowed things down in the halfcourt and eviscerated the Nuggets defense in that setting. Will that carry over into tonight’s game?

In those meetings, the Rockets had an 80% eFG mark on wide open shots. They hit 55.3% of their wide open 3-pointers.

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