NBA Picks: Rockets at Raptors Point Spread
Houston Rockets at Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors (24-12) snatched defeat from the jaws of victory last night, allowing Chicago to mount a furious fourth-quarter comeback, giving the Bulls their 10th straight win over the Raps. After Jimmy Butler destroyed Toronto with a brilliant 42-10-5 evening, the Raptors face another superstar guard in James Harden. The Houston Rockets (29-9) have been sizzling, winning seven straight under the power of the Beard’s relentless triple-double attack, unleashed by coach D’Anonti’s genius offensive schemes.
Part of the reason this rematch won’t be another blowout revolves around personnel challenges faced by both squads. Patrick Patterson has missed the last few games with a knee injury, and Sullinger hasn’t played a game yet this season, decimating Toronto at the power forward position. The road trip was tough, but the lack of a veteran four is the main reason the Raptors have dropped two of their last three games. The Rockets are missing starting center Clint Capela, who’s out with a fractured fibula. He’s a solid presence in the paint, but his absence has a limited impact because of the Rockets reliance on small ball.
Rockets at Raptors Prediction
Bet Houston Rockets (-145) at William Hill
During the first meeting between the Rockets and the Raptors, Houston had difficulty dealing with Toronto’s front court and evenly distributed scoring. Jonas Valanciunas secured 16 boards, including five offensive rebounds, scoring 15 points on ten shots in the process. DeMarre Carroll was monstrous, scoring 20 points on 14 shots while earning four steals and three blocks. Joseph and Ross combined for 31 points on 23 shots while Patterson played the glue guy, picking up four steals in 26 minutes.
On the heels of a disappointing loss, playing back-to-back matches on their third game in four nights, the Raptors will simply not be able to produce the same level of excellent play. Even worse, Lowry and DeRozan scored 63 points the night before and the Raptors were still unable to close out the win, suggesting that the rest of the rotation will provide limited contributions against the Rockets. Valanciunas and Joseph have been fairly consistent, but the Raptors can’t keep up with the Rockets offense without a solid night from Ross, Carroll, Patterson and Powell.
Without an experienced power forward to keep him in check, there’s a good chance that Ryan Anderson will be able to find plenty of open looks tonight. James Harden is perfectly aware of this, and will leverage his ability to read and bend defenses to relentlessly feed Anderson and Trevor Ariza whenever possible. After starting the year injured, Patrick Beverley has joined Houston’s 40 percent club at the three-point line, along with Anderson and fellow ex-Pelican Eric Gordon. Clint Capela’s injury could result in a 20-20 double-double for Jonas Valaciunas, but the Rockets won’t care as long as they get to launch open bombs from beyond the arc while Harden draws his usual 10-15 foul shot attempts.
NBA Picks Tonight | January 8, 2017
A total of nine games are on the NBA schedule for Sunday, including the two best squads in the association. The Golden State Warriors take on the Sacramento Kings while the Cleveland Cavaliers face the Phoenix Suns. Both teams are obvious overwhelming favorites, but the Suns might have a slim chance at an upset if the Cavs rest two of their big three like they did recently against the Bulls. The Jazz represent decent wagering value, listed as underdogs against the Grizzlies despite Utah’s solid, consistent defense.
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