Rudy Gay is making more money than James Harden this year. James Harden uses free throws and efficient shot locations to score piles of points efficiently, even when his field goal percentage is bad. Rudy Gay doesn’t do that. Rudy Gay shoots and defends. James Harden doesn’t defend very much. If these two players end up on each other, this could be the battle to watch. If not, it’ll be interesting to see who dunks more, DeMar Derozan or Chandler Parsons.
No secret to this one — it’s Houston’s fourth-ranked offence (105.6 points per game) versus Toronto’s sixth-ranked defence (93.9 PPG by opponents). The Raptors will hope that the Rockets’ main threat, two-guard James Harden, is still suffering the effects of a bruised foot. He was a game-time decision in Saturday’s loss to the Clippers, and could manage only a limited contribution. If Harden’s marginal, it’s just a matter of keeping Howard off the boards. So — still extremely difficult.
The Raptors have relied heavily on second chance opportunities this season, as their 21 points per game in that catergory leads the NBA and accounts for roughly 22 per cent of Toronto’s scoring. Toronto comes into this one ranked third in offensive rebounds per game (14.1), but that’s countered by the Rockets averaging 35.3 defensive rebounds per game (led by Howard’s 13.6 per contest) — good for second overall in the league.
From about the start of the second half Saturday night when Kyle Lowry did not come out with his team until Dwane Casey in his post-game media scrum described Lowry’s ankle sprain as minor, we were wondering if we had just witnessed the tipping point of the Raptors’ season. That would be the point where general manager Masai Ujiri has to decide play for now or play for later. Whether to let this team forge ahead and do what they can do or start unloading contracts with a look towards better times ahead. The line is that fine and it rests rather precariously on the oft-injured status of Lowry.
Stone has been making the most of it and his offense has really been coming around in the last 2 games. After 0-1 shooting in his first 2 appearances, Stone is perfect from the field with a three-ball in each of the past 2 games. Even though the sample size 7 games into the regular season is small, Stone has mostly looked pretty good on the court and his stats are far superior to Buycks or Augustin.
The Raptors have been the league’s best offensive rebounding team based on offensive rebounding percentage. The Rockets expected their defensive rebounding to be among their most reliable strengths with either Omer Asik or Dwight Howard on the court at all times, often with the centers playing together. After a strong start to the season on the boards, the Rockets have slipped all the way to 18th in defensive rebounding percentage. They are 24th in the league in second-chance points allowed per possession.
he Rockets have been outrebounded in their last two games after posting a positive rebound margin in each of their first five contests. Toronto has outrebounded each opponent and leads the league at plus-7.4 per game. Howard is averaging 24.7 points on 61.8 percent shooting in his last 18 games against the Raptors, while DeMar DeRozan is averaging 21.6 points over his last five versus Houston.
It’s not as if the Raptors are having trouble putting fans in seats. According to ESPN.com, the team currently ranks 10th in the league in home game attendance at an average of 18,612 fans. Now that number is only based off of three games at the Air Canada Centre, but even in 2012-13, that number hovered around the same mark (18,144), which was still in the top half of the league. I seriously doubt having Steve Nash wear the red and white for Toronto is going to make THAT big of a difference.
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