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NBA Preview: Toronto Raptors vs. Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets Basketball

Toronto Raptors vs. Houston Rockets NBA Preview

Friday, January 25 at 8:00 PM ET

Toyota Center

Coverage: ESPN; Line: Raptors 3.5; O/U: 229.

The Toronto Raptors visit the Houston Rockets on Friday night in a potential NBA Finals preview.

Raptors get Leonard and Anunoby back

The Raptors lost 110-106 to the Pacers last Wednesday but they were without Kawhi Leonard (rest), OG Anunoby (personal) and Jonas Valanciunas (thumb). The Raptors were 8-1 in their nine games before that defeat and they’re 9-3 in January despite using constant rotation changes.

The defeat still proved that the Raptors have incredible depth as they were on the second night of a back-to-back and still erased almost all of a 15-point deficit. OG Anunoby will return against the Rockets. He can be a difference-maker on defense because of his wingspan and quickness. This is especially formidable when combined with Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam or Serge Ibaka.

Harden has career night

James Harden scored a career-high 61 points while adding 15 rebounds, five steals and four assists in Wednesday’s 114-110 win against the Knicks. Harden’s 61 points matched Kobe Bryant for the most scored by a visiting player since Madison Square Garden was renovated.

The Rockets are now 6-5 in January. Harden became the first player in NBA history to attempt 20 free-throws and 20 3-pointers in the same game. He is also the first player with 60 points and 15 rebounds in the same game since Shaquille O’Neal on March 6, 2000.

Harden has five 50-point games this season, three over his last five and he’s averaging 52.2 points per game in those contests. Despite this the Rockets are struggling as Chris Paul and Clint Capela are still out. Paul (15.6 points, 8.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds in 26 games) practiced yesterday and he’s questionable for this game.

Odds and News

NBA Trends:

The Under is:

4-0 in Toronto’s last four games overall

4-0 in Toronto’s last four games after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game

7-3 in Toronto’s last 10 games following a straight up loss

17-7 in Houston’s last 24 games against a team with a winning percentage above .600

7-3 in Houston’s last 10 games following an ATS loss

The Raptors have one of the deepest teams in the NBA. Tonight they have a rested Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Pascal Siakam, and the returning OG Anunoby can try to slow down James Harden. There’s a significant talent discrepancy between these two teams and the Rockets don’t have many weapons on offense besides Harden.

Team rankings based on defensive efficiency:

Raptors – 6th (104.4 points allowed per 100 possessions)

Team rankings based on pace:

Rockets – 27th (99.9 possessions per game)

Toronto’s high defensive efficiency + Houston’s slow pace = a game that will go Under a high total.

NBA Pick: Under 229 (-110) at Jazz Sports

Check odds here: Jazz Sports

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