The Rockets will host the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night, but as much as they’ve been playing well and face a good opponent, all eyes will be there to see if Chris Paul finally returns to action and the new era in Houston begins after a delay. The game is also a clash of strategies of the two prolific shooting guards – DeRozan, who thrives in the in-between game, and Harden, who is allergic to shooting two-point jumpers. No matter if you are a casual fan or a die-hard basketball purist, this game will have something for you, so make sure you don’t miss it.
Raptors at Rockets
Spread: Houston -6 (-110) at BetDSI Sportsbook
Total: o/u 220.5 points (-110)
Toronto come close to snap one win streak, but get another chance soon
It was the usual way the Raptors lose close games when they fell to the Celtics in Boston 94-95. The Raptors did all the hard work to give themselves the chance to win, only to squander all of it by going iso-happy in the last few minutes with DeRozan (and sometimes Lowry), trying to win the game with their go-to moves that end up as tough, contested shots that clank off of a rim. This perfectly describes the last two possessions the North had in Boston, but I’m not talking about those only, but about all the possessions Toronto had in the later portions of the final quarter. Playing hero ball backfired and the Raptors waste a great opportunity to snap Boston’s streak on a night when Irving was forced to sit.
It was a crawling game in terms of pace. Those rare fast break points found by both teams happened after broken passes in the backcourt, and not as a result of pushing the ball. This helped both defenses, and the Raptors did their part without the ball. The length of their power forwards (Ibaka, Siakam, and Nogueira) troubled indecisive Boston guards, and perimeter players did an excellent job staying in front of the ball when guarding their primary opponents. However, the patient and pass-happy Celtics offense caused problems by forcing the Raptors into defensive rotations. The Raptors tried to switch almost everything, sometimes leaving VanVleet as a paint protector, which had expected results. Still, they’ll take holding the opposition to 40 percent shooting any night. The offense gave up too many balls, and the Raptors lost the rebounding battle despite the obvious height advantage – and this indicated lack of focus and lack of effort. Offensively, they didn’t play too well. The ball was not moving too well, and any movement would sink as soon as the Raptors would hit the post. DeRozan was the high point man with 24 points, but he missed key shots along the way and finished with a poor efficiency (8-of-22). Lowry was rarely involved as much as he should. He did score 19 points and hit 4 treys, but at least two of those were frustration/heat attempts from way beyond the arc. Powell and Valanciunas were useless and barely played in the second half. The bench was good both ways and made a big difference to Raptors advantage. Unfortunately, Miles shots missed when it mattered the most (sounds familiar Indy fans?). Casey used all 12 players to find working combinations, and all but one (Powell, who was scoreless) committed at least one turnover.
Powell exited the last game with a right hip pointer and it is unknown if he will play Tuesday against the Rockets. He left the arena on crutches, so the Raptors might be forced to start Miles or Anunoby in this game.
Place: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
Date/Time: Tuesday, November 14th, 2017. 8:00 PM ET
TV Coverage: NBATV
The Nets go 2-3 on a five-game road trip, lose Russell
After a 118-95 win in Indianapolis, the Rockets win streak has now reached six games, and they wouldn’t even give a striking chance to their foes in the most of them. The Rockets are enjoying playing so much that even a late-night flight across the States wouldn’t stop them from leading from start to finish on Sunday.
The good start was in the hands of James Harden, except he didn’t bury the Pacers with his shooting, but with sharing the ball. He had another good night with 26 points, 15 assists, and five rebounds, and it all started with good decision making early in the game. By the end of the first quarter, Harden already had nine assists. He threw alley-oop passes to Clint Capela (20 points, 17 rebounds) that led to thunderous dunks. He drew Pacers defenders, then kicked the ball to Eric Gordon (21 points) for wide open 3. When passing was not his best option, Harden simply scored. It did not matter who guarded him. The Rockets led by 17 after one, and held a double digit lead the rest of the way. The Rockets shot almost 48 percent against an improving Pacers defense and scored 17 three-pointers. They also did a good care of the ball, wasting only 13 possessions on turnovers. Defensively, they turned the switches on and off. When it mattered, the Rockets held the Pacers to a single shot and tried to contest. Later, when the lead grew, it was not a text-book D, but it’s not their forte anyway. This season, the Rockets are actually allowing their opponents to shoot a better percentage on both two-point and three-point tries, than their hit rate. However, they are winning by 8.2 points on average, and share the lead in the West.
Nene sat out the last game due to an ankle injury and it is unknown if he will play against the Raptors. Chris Paul is out 13 games and counting but is real close to returning and it could even be on Tuesday. He has been practicing since last week, but they might save him the trouble of playing against Kyle Lowry and let him play in Phoenix on Thursday. Keep your eyes on the team news on the game day to find out more.
Toronto Raptors at Houston Rockets Game Trends & Prediction
Toronto was favored to win in Boston but couldn’t deliver the goods. Even if DeRozan’s last shot hit the mark, they would still come short of covering, and that’s the theme around them these days. While winning against New Orleans and Chicago previously, the Raptors did not win with high enough of a margin. In the last four games, the Raptors are 0-4 against the spread, bringing their season record to 6-6. They are 4-3 on the road. They are also 6-6 against the over/under, but tend to play more unders away from home (2-5).
The Rockets are 8-6 ATS overall, but 5-1 in the last six games. After five consecutive overs, the last two games ended under the projected number of total points, as they held their opponents below 100 points. Over is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings with Toronto though.
Admi-Rank: It’s clear that these two teams know how to play and it’s not surprising to have them among the top-ranked teams in their respective conferences. Toronto has that solid defense trump card, but the Rockets are hot and have the edge due to terrific offensive output.
As much as the Houston Rockets have done so far this season, my doubts about them were never attached to this, last year’s, version of their game. They’ve already shown that they can outscore most opponents on most nights when they give the ball to Harden. But, as soon as Paul returns, it’s going to be a much different scenario. They’ll need time, and they might have bought some with the good start to the season, but it will also affect their betting stock. The Raptors are usually overlooked as they won’t wow anybody. In Houston, they can go out and hope that the trees they have in the paint bother Harden and that he won’t use their inexperience to draw fouls. If the long bombs hit their marks, the Raptors probably won’t have a punching force to match.
The Rockets have been set as 6-point jolly on market opening, which is slightly less than what’s expected. Fair spread here is 7.5, without Paul. I’m not counting him in as the signals point that way, but if you don’t feel comfortable taking an early offer, try to get game day news before you commit. The total has been set to 220.5, teasing us on the over side. However, this is not enough of a value to go for it, and I seriously doubt that the line will go down.
My Pick: Houston -6 (-110)
Total: (no total points wager here)
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