Some weeks ago, it might have appeared fishy to see the Denver Nuggets marked as substantial point-spread favorites over a well-respected NBA club like the Houston Rockets.

Despite surging to the best record in the Western Conference at the halfway mark, a young, scrappy Nuggets squad is still doubted as a legitimate NBA title contender.

Las Vegas has seen enough, however. The Nuggets have won 7 of their last 8 games and will host the Rockets as a (-4.5) favorite in a contest with a consensus (227) Over/Under point total.

7’0” center Nikola Jokić is the centerpiece for a resilient Nugget offense which battled through injuries and started 11 different players halfway into the season. Denver has been efficient on offense and defense, and the team’s fast-break transition game recently exploded during an unbeaten 4-game stretch in which the upstarts netted 505 combined points.

James Hardin has put the Houston squad on his back this season. The clutch athlete has been atop the league leaders in scoring with well over 30 points per game. The Rockets have lit it up beyond the arc, nailing more trifectas than anybody in the NBA.

However, the club is struggling to stop opponents from scoring in the paint, a crucial component of defense in the NBA.

The good news for the Rockets is that Chris Paul has returned from injury. The fan-favorite guard played more than 20 minutes in the team’s most recent pair of contests against the Orlando Magic and the New Orleans Pelicans, scoring 22 points in 8 quarters. Could Paul have a big night in Denver and help the underdog Rockets cover the spread?

Houston beat Denver 125-113 on January 7th at Toyota Center, Hardin scoring his usual 32 points while adding 14 assists. Rockets center Clint Capela added 31 points and 9 rebounds, while Jokić paced the visiting Nuggets with 24 points and 13 boards.

Image from YouTube.

Published by Kurt Boyer

Kurt has penned over 1000+ online sports stories and is known as a 55%+ American football handicapper. He has been published on MSN.com, Yardbarker and Bleacher Report. You can reach Kurt at Scenewarscollective@gmail.com.

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