Houston Rockets at Toronto Raptors Preview
In an interconference matchup on NBA TV tonight, the Houston Rockets will resume their road trip as they head north of the border for a clash against one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams in the Toronto Raptors.
The Rockets are 13-7 on the season and are fifth in the West. They enter tonight’s game fresh off a double OT loss to the San Antonio Spurs that they are contesting because of a missed dunk call in regulation. The Rockets are 5-5 on the road this season and hope to get back above .500 in that department tonight.
The Raptors are in third place in the Eastern Conference with a 15-5 record. They also lost their most recent game, but they are 8-2 in their last 10 games and they are an excellent 9-1 at Scotiabank Arena.
This will be the first regular-season matchup of the two-game season series between the Raptors and Rockets, but back in preseason, James Harden led Houston to a 118-111 win over the Raptors.
Time: 7:30 PM ET
Arena: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
Channel: NBA TV
Rockets: Eric Gordon, Nene, Gerald Green (O)
Raptors: Stanley Johnson, Patrick McCaw, Matt Thomas (O)
Houston Rockets Starting Lineup
The Rockets seemed to be well on their way to another win behind a big scoring night in San Antonio on Tuesday night, but a missed dunk, which was actually a make that was not reviewable may have hurt the Rockets in the final outcome as they lost 135-133 in double overtime.
The Rockets continue to challenge the call and even asked for them to be credited for the win or for the final minutes to be played out at a later date to decide the winner. So far these requests are falling on deaf ears, but D’Antoni doesn’t credit that alone for the loss.
“Obviously that just added to the circumstances,” D’Antoni said. “We quit playing defense. We quit getting back. We turned it over silly and didn’t get back. Then they got hot and started making shots and we didn’t combat it.”
“We just stopped playing,” James Harden said. “They gained confidence.”
Harden finished with 50 points and nine rebounds and he did so on very few shot attempts and got the majority of his points on the free-throw line. Russell Westbrook had a triple-double although he struggled offensively, as he ended the game with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Clint Capela rounded it all out with 22 points and 21 rebounds. He was a monster on the boards and got the Rockets extra possessions all night.
For the Rockets, they’ll have to prove that they can finish against a young and hungry Raptors team that can match their athleticism.
Toronto Raptors Preview Starting Lineup
Like the Rockets, the Toronto Raptors also suffered a loss in overtime in their last game. On Tuesday night, they were dominated in the extra period by the Miami Heat for a 121-110 loss, scoring just two points to the Heat’s 13 in overtime.
“We just didn’t have the greatest energy I didn’t think, especially in the first half,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “I thought they were trying pretty hard in the second half and it was just one of those games where it wasn’t quite bouncing our way.”
Pascal Siakam wasn’t his usual dominant self as he had just 15 points to go along with his 12 rebounds in the game. The Raptors were led off the bench by Norman Powell, who had 23 points and eight rebounds. Serge Ibaka was also a big part of that second unit, contributing 13 points and nine rebounds.
Kyle Lowry scored 12 points to fo along with 11 assists, but he struggled offensively. It was Lowry’s first game back in the lineup after being sidelined for 11 games, but he shot just 2-for-18.
“That was terrible,” he said. “That’s rhythm, I missed shots. I mean honestly I didn’t force anything, I don’t think. I think everything I shot came within the offense and honestly, a lot of those 3s went in and out. Layups, it’s just rhythm and a little bit of timing. … But I’m sure I’ll be better next game.”
Aside from those struggles, they did have six players in double figures, and Lowry should play better so they should be able to stay competitive with the Rockets.
Key Player Matchups
James Harden vs. Fred VanVleet
Harden is now averaging 39.5 points per game this season, which makes him an almost impossible guard. Fred VanVleet can put up points and knock down threes as well, but even in a game where Harden is defended well, he gets his numbers. Against San Antonio, the Spurs defended his step-back well and defended it from the side instead of lunging straight at him, limiting him to just 28.9 percent from the field and 20 percent from beyond the arch, but he was 100% on all 24 of his free-throw attempts.
Pascal Siakam vs. PJ Tucker
PJ Tucker almost always takes on the opposing team’s best scoring threat, and in this game, that’s Pascal Siakam. Siakam is averaging 25.1 points per game and can get it done inside and outside with his combination of height, speed, and athleticism. Tucker seems comfortable guarding at all three levels, but Siakam will be a tough challenge for the defensive ace.
James Harden and Pascal Siakam are your fantasy studs for tonight’s game. Harden is available for $12k on FanDuel and he seems primed for another big night with a 62.14 points projection. Siakam is available for $8.4k and is projected for 40.93 points.
Look to Raptors guard Fred VanVleet for a low-cost value option. His salary is $6.6k and he is projected to rack up 30.97 points. Norman Powell is also another low-risk option.
Bet on Matchup
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