We’re over the three week mark for no NBA basketball and, well, do you know the “This is fine?” meme? Yeah ... While it’s tough with no hoops, we are moving in the right direction with an NBA 2K tourney. Okay, let’s get to the point. If the NBA returns at some point to finish this season, it will most likely be to finish the playoffs. If that’s the case, we already have the playoff matchups right in front of us. In the Western Conference things have been tight. The standings alter each night and teams can move freely from seed 3 to seed 7. This is a tough draw for both of these teams if the Denver Nuggets get the Houston Rockets in Round 1. Let’s break down what the series could look like:
Rockets vs. Nuggets series breakdown
Nuggets record: 43-22
Rockets record: 40-24
Season series: Tied 2-2
The home team has won each game in the regular-season series between the Nuggets and Rockets. Denver has done a good job defending James Harden in three games. The Beard only scores 29.7 points per game vs. the Nuggets this season. While that number is low, Harden has been efficient. The big question mark for the series is: How will this new-look Rockets team stack up against Denver?
These teams haven’t played each other since Clint Capela was traded to the Hawks and the Rockets got Robert Covington from the Timberwolves. Capela is size the Rockets don’t even know exists anymore. Dealing with Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee won’t be easy for the Rockets. The Nuggets just aren’t a good draw for Houston. It’s a slow-paced team that can defend, which takes shots away from Harden, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Rockets shooters. Fewer possessions = fewer shots. Worst case, the Nuggets do a poor job on the road and win the series in seven games. Still, a ways to go before this even happens, remember.
This series really comes down to can Harden and Westbrook will the Rockets to a win? Of course they can. Hero ball from either of them for four games and the Nuggets are cooked. It’s been Denver’s problem in this iteration of the franchise: Who will take the big shot? Who will step up? Is it going to be Jokic? I think he’s better suited to make a play than take a shot. Jamal Murray? He can do it sometimes but not all the time. There are a few other fringe guys behind them, but it’s not much.
You need talent to win in the NBA and the Nuggets lack that formulaic 2-3 All-Star combo that gets you over the top. Last postseason vs. Portland the Nuggets offense disappeared too easily. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum also played a factor. If Michael Porter Jr. or Will Barton or Paul Millsap or anyone else can help Jokic and Murray, the Nuggets can get to the conference finals. Otherwise, they could be quick work courtesy of Harden and Russ.