The Toronto Raptors (15-5) welcome the Houston Rockets (13-7) to the Scotiabank Arena in NBA action on Thursday evening.
The Raptors suffered their first home loss of the season last time out when they were dropped by the Miami Heat, 121-110 in overtime. It was the first time in 10 home contests the defending NBA champions dropped a decision in Toronto. The loss also snapped the Raptors’ season-high seven game winning streak.
Norman Powell paced the offense, scoring 23 points while Fred VanVleet continued to prove why people are rumbling about him being a possible All-Star, chipping in 19 in the loss. Pascal Siakam continued his stellar start to the season by notching another double-double, this time out compiling a 15 point, 12 rebound performance. Although the loss was a bit of a let down for the Raptors, it wasn’t all bad as Kyle Lowry returned after missing the previous 11 games due to a fractured left thumb.
The Rockets are also coming off an overtime loss on Tuesday night. While Toronto was dropped in single OT, the San Antonio Spurs needed a second extra session to finally finish off the Rockets 135-133. Although the game was not without controversy. In the final minute of action, James Harden went up for a dunk and appeared to miss. Subsequent replays showed the ball actually went in the hoop and came back out, meaning the Rockets should have been awarded the basket (Houston has sent a formal protest to the NBA to grant them the win or replay the end of the game from the point of the controversy).
If the loss stands, it will go down as a particularly bad one for the Rockets who—at one point in the second half—led by 22 points. James Harden went off for 50 in the loss while Clint Capela added 22 and the duo of Russell Westbrook and Austin Rivers each contributed 19.
In statistical comparisons, Toronto is currently averaging 113.1 Points per Game (PPG) and allowing just 105.0 (PA) while Houston is dominating on the offensive end, averaging 120.9 PPG, but with a porous defense giving up 115.5 per game.
Player Match Up: Pascal Siakam v James Harden
The key matchup to watch in this one is an obvious one; who will prevail between perennial MVP candidate James Harden and budding superstar Pascal Siakam. Siakam is averaging 25.1 Points per Game (PPG) while shooting 46.7% from the floor and 81.3% from the line.
Harden’s numbers are once again bonkers this season. The pesky guard is averaging a shade under 40 points per game (39.5) while shooting better than 40% from the floor (43.3%) and a touch under 90% from the free throw line (87.6%). The key for the Raptors winning this matchup is going to be the same that every team has when facing Houston; how are the Raptors going to stop Harden from going off?
Toronto Raptors vs Houston Rockets Betting Lines & Pick
Our betting tip here is for the Raptors to return to winning ways at home.