Toronto Raptors vs Houston Rockets

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

The Houston Rockets take on the Toronto Raptors Monday night at 9 pm EST at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Currently, the Raptors are favored by 8.5-points while the total stands at 223.5-points, down from 224.5 at the opening.

The Raptors lost their 8th-straight game Sunday night as they fell on the road to the Cleveland Cavaliers by 11-points. The team was outscored by a 68-47 margin in the 2nd and 3rd quarters as they endured their 25th-defeat of the year. The offense was dismal shooting less than 40% with Fred VanVleet leading the way with 23 points and 7 assists, yet, the guard shot 8-24 FG along with 5-15 from long-range. The Raptors also failed to cover as 7.5-point favorites and are just 1-4 in their last 5 games.

The Rockets losing streak stretched to 20-games Sunday night after falling at home by 2-points to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite the loss, Houston received efficient performances from guards John Wall along with Victor Oladipo, who posted 23 and 24 points, respectively, with the latter going 4-8 from deep. On the other hand, Wall missed 6 of his 7 attempts from long-range while also committing 3 of the team’s 16 turnovers. The Rockets lost their 5th-straight against the number failing to cover as 4.5-point favorites.

The Rockets have a slight advantage versus Houston picking up wins in 6 of their last 10 meetings; However, the Raptors picked up an 11-point win at home on February 26th to half a 3-game series losing skid. The Rockets are also 6-4 ATS in their last 10 matchups while going 2-2 at the Toyota Center.

Raptors desperately seeking a win

The Raptors have struggled on both ends of the floor during their current losing skid with the offense averaging 112 points along with the defense giving up at least 115 points in all but one of those games. Now, with a record of 17-25 while being in the cellar of the Atlantic Standings, the Raptors must give it all they have to somehow right their season before it is too late. VanVleet, who has struggled from the floor this year making under 40% of his shots, yet connecting on 37% of his treys in addition to posting 20 or more in 3 of his last 5 starts, expressed these sentiments after their most recent defeat.

“Listen, we’re professionals,” he said to the Star.com. “We have a game tomorrow. We’re men. What are you going to do when things aren’t going well? Who are you going to be? What kind of man do you want to be? We’ll see what kind of team we’re going to be tomorrow.” The team possesses a golden opportunity to get back on the winning track versus a struggling Houston team that has dropped 7 of their last 10 games at the Toyota Center.

VanVleet shot just 6-23 FG along with 5-11 from deep in the team’s home win over the Rockets last month for 25 points while Kyle Lowry, who has 13 turnovers in his last 3 starts, finished with a triple-double (20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) while accounting for 4 treys. Norman Powell, however, was the player of the game for Toronto as he went 4-8 from 3-point range along with 10-15 from the field for 30 points.

In all, the Raptors shot 45% as a team while nailing 16 threes in the double-digit win. Important to note that Pascal Siakam, who is averaging just 11 points per in his last 4 starts, did not suit up for this matchup.

Late blocks lifts Thunder to win over Houston

Wall could not convert during the last seconds of the team’s slim loss at home to the Thunder Sunday evening thanks to a huge block by Lugentz Dort, sending the Rockets to their 30th loss of the season. After their rough patch of outings to begin the month of February until now, Houston is now putting up just 106 points per game on 43% shooting in addition to converting on just 32% from long-range. The defense has been just as awful allowing an average 114 points per on 47% shooting along with 37% from 3-point range.

However, a bright side to Houston is that they continue to get critical pieces back in the lineup. Wall, despite committing 9 turnovers in 2 games after returning to the lineup, has put in 20+ point performances in each while dishing out 14 assists. Oladipo has been in and out of the lineup throughout the year as well; Yet, the guard has posted some big number when he has suited up, including averaging 24 points per in his last 7 starts.

Combine this with forward Christian Wood (20+ in 2 of 3 games/(1) double-double) along with Danuel House, Jr. returning to the team as well, and Houston has a chance to right themselves in this contest. However, they must be more efficient from the floor than in their last outing versus the Raptors while also playing more consistently on the perimeter on the defensive end.

And while Wood did not suit up for their 1st matchup versus the Raptors, Wall posted a double-double with 21 points and 12 assists while Oladipo led with 27 points. House, Jr. went just 3-8 from the field while missing 4 of 7 attempts from deep for 11 points as the Rockets shot just 43% in the road loss. Worth noting that Wall and Oladipo each shot 9-21 FG in addition to combining to go 6-19 from long-range.

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet
Rating:

As pointed out, each of these teams are desperate for a win after enduring a string of losses as of late.  And while I believe that each will take the floor with some intensity, I will give the edge to Houston as they have a bit of an advantage for this contest.  Again, Wall and Oladipo are continuing to play well in the back-court while Wood along with House, Jr. are each working their way back into the flow of things after returning from injury.

And while the defense is a work in progress, it will certainly help that the offense for Houston is able to score on a Raptors defense that has been very giving throughout the season.  In all, I like the home team and the points.

Prediction:
Houston Rockets +8.5

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Full-Game Total Pick
Rating:

The over is not only 7-3 in the last 10 meetings between these 2 squads, but is 4-0 in their last 4 matchups at the Toyota Center.  Furthermore, the over has been the play in 4 of 6 roadies for the Raptors along with 4 of 6 home games for the Rockets.  With the way each of these teams have played defense this year, I will certainly look at the over has been the strong play.

Prediction:
Over 223.5