Denver and Houston are both young, fast and energetic teams. They will battle out the NBA Game Of The Week.This week's NBA game of the week is between two very exciting Western conference teams. Denver and Houston both like to play up tempo and love to score. Let's take a look.
GAME TIME & VIEWING OPTIONSTime & Date: Thursday, January 31, 2013 1:00pm AEDT Location: Pepsi Center, Denver. Viewing Info: NBA League Pass (see our TV Guide for full info)
FORM HEADING INDenver Nuggets: 27-18 Denver are really starting to find their groove as a team. Just as we pass the halfway mark of the season they are now, more than ever looking more like a team that could push deep into the playoffs. The Nuggets defend their home court like few others, going 17-3 in their first 20 home games. Their last outing was against Sacramento. This match was a blowout from the beginning. The Kings never looked like winning and the Nuggets ran out easy winners 121-93. Houston Rockets: 24-22 Houston is currently sitting 8th in the Western conference, not bad for a team with so many new faces around to learn the game plan. As this season wears on, I'm only expecting the Rockets to improve as chemistry and trust continues to grow. Houston's last match came against Brooklyn. The Rockets took over in the second quarter and looked in control, only to have the Nets mount a comeback in the final quarter to get with in eight. Then Harden launched into takeover mode and pushed the Rockets comfortably over the line, 119-106. Previous Meetings: 7/11: Nuggets 93 @ Rockets 87 23/1: Nuggets 105 @ Rockets 95
MATCH UP OF THE NIGHTThe match up of the night will be a battle of the shooting guards. The match up between James Harden and Andre Iguodala will be a very interesting one to watch. Last week Harden was named an All-Star reserve, I don't think anyone could argue with that choice. Harden has been exposing opposition defences all season long and is certainly looking like a player who deserves the contract he wanted from Oklahoma City, but got with Houston. He is the player that makes the Rockets go and when he is on, he lifts the whole team with his energy. Harden is arguably in the top 10 of the MVP battle, with a whopping 25.9 points per game along with 5.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds. I get the feeling he likes being the superstar of the team! Andre Iguodala already has an All-Star selection to his name. Although he didn't get selected this season, he has still had a solid season, finding his feet with his new team in Denver. Iggy had a slow start to the season, but is now really starting to demand the ball and trusting his team mates. His numbers are going up, and with that so are the Nuggets standing in the Western conference. Although Harden has more speed, Iguodala does posses great defence and will be more than willing to force Harden into tough outside jump shots. That being said Harden plays tight defence well above par. These two players may have important roles offensively, but their rebounding will be so valuable to their respective team. Iguodala is averaging 1 more rebound than Harden, so it's going to be a very tight contest.
BENCH BATTLEWith both teams employing up tempo game styles, the bench players become very important to carry the load while the starters are resting. Let's take a look at who to watch for coming off the bench. Carlos Delfino, 30, is the oldest player on the Houston roster. The second oldest player is Toney Douglas, 26. This proves just how young this team is and also just how valuable Delfino's veteran experience is to his young team mates. Delfino has been a very solid contributor since crossing from Milwaukee in the off season. He is a great back up for Harden and is capable of scoring when called upon. He is averaging very solid all round numbers with 10.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1 steal per game. The Denver bench is being well lead by Corey Brewer this season. Brewer is producing his best basketball since the 2009-10 season when he was with Minnesota. He has been the consistent bench scorer Denver have needed. His influence on this Nuggets team can't be underestimated, with the energy and defence he provides. Brewer is third on the team for steals per game and is only averaging 1 turnover per game. He is averaging 11.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. Marcus Morris only played 17 games in his rookie season. This season has been a different story, he has stepped up and played in all bar one game. The forward out of Kansas has taken advantage of the extra minutes he has earned, jumping from 7.4 last season to 22 this season. If Morris can curve Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler's rebounding game, he will have done his job for the team. He is averaging 8.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1 assist per game. JaVale McGee, what a strange character he is. He would have to be leading the league in weird and wonderful things per game this season. Beyond the funny side of McGee, he is really starting to prove he can be more than just a role player. I'm still surprised that George Karl is starting Kosta Koufos in front of McGee, not disrespect to Koufos, but I believe McGee can provide more for the team than he can. McGee is averaging 10.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in only 19 minutes of game time.
X FACTORWilson Chandler has only recently come back from injury and with that you have to expect some inconsistent play. His previous game against Houston was as encouraging as any Denver fan could've hoped for. He poured in 20 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and raked in 3 steals. Chandler is looking like the X-factor because when he is healthy and switched he is such a great offensive force and can bring down rebounds too. If Chandler can produce close to the numbers he did last time against Houston, it will hold Denver in great stead and provide another spark of the already well performed bench.
PREDICTED STARTING LINE UPSHouston Rockets:
- Point guard: Jeremy Lin
- Shooting guard: James Harden
- Small forward: Chandler Parsons
- Power forward: Patrick Patterson
- Centre: Omer Asik
- Point guard: Ty Lawson
- Shooting guard: Andre Iguodala
- Small forward: Danilo Gallinari
- Power forward: Kenneth Faried
- Centre: Kosta Koufos
PREDICTIONThese two teams play very similar styles and with that, I'm expecting a very tight battle. If James Harden shoots well I think it could well be a Houston win, if Danilo Gallinari shoots well I think it could well be a Denver win. I'm expecting this to be a high scoring game, with many fast break points and quick transition basketball. My prediction: Whilst this game is in Denver, I can't go against them. Denver: 107 Houston: 98
Who do you think will get over the line in this battle? Photo Credit: Barry How/Getty Images