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Game thread: Rockets vs. Nuggets

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James Harden is back in the lineup tonight for Houston.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Houston Rockets Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets are at home tonight against a Denver team that is battling for the right to be swept by Golden State in the first round. They currently sit in ninth place, just a half game back of the Portland Trail Blazers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. You would expect them to bring it tonight.

Jameer Nelson, Kenneth Faried, and Darrell Arthur, who were all game-time decisions, will indeed play for the Nuggets. Thankfully, normal Rocket-killer Will Barton will not.

The Rockets are doing their best to balance rest for some ailing players with staying sharp for the postseason, which means James Harden and Trevor Ariza are in, while Ryan Anderson is still out. Coach Mike D’Antoni will switch things up a bit in tonight’s starting lineup, however.

It’ll be interesting to see if Williams can replicate his last performance against Phoenix, in which he went for 21 points and 6 three-pointers. I’m also anxious to see how James Harden’s wrist looks tonight. Getting his shot back in order is the single most important factor left for the Rockets in advance of the playoffs.

I’d love to see him make a final push for the MVP award, but the media appears to have already made up it’s mind, being seduced by the empty numbers Russell Westbrook is putting up, rather than the equally robust statistical performance from James Harden that is actually leading his team to an elite number of victories.

That’s life as a Rocket fan, however, and one that I’m plenty used to in my 30 years of following the team. I have the utmost faith that The Beard and the Rockets will put one on Wussell the Muscle in the first round of the playoffs, rendering whatever pity trophy the NBA wishes to place on their new media darling completely inconsequential.

I’ll be looking for a healing wrist from The Beard tonight, and you should too. The Rockets have a magic number of one for clinching the third seed. I’d like to see them snag it tonight.