Tonight was supposed to be Fred VanVleet’s return to the city, the country, and the franchise that he initially called home, but sadly an abductor injury will keep him out of the game. Although he won’t be playing in the game, you can still expect a tribute video, and an emotional night for the former Raptors point guard. Reunions aside, there is a basketball game to be played and after the trade deadline, Toronto has its first test. The Houston Rockets are a team that finds itself with a losing record like the Toronto Raptors. This game will be a bit easier for Toronto since Houston is missing arguably its best player in Fred VanVleet, but Houston still has a bevy of talent that can help them win this game.
Alperen Sengun can provide many headaches for Toronto, and with a passer like him on the floor, the defensive awareness has to be on point. With Jakob in the lineup, you can trust his defense one on one against the young Rockets big, but you have to make sure he isn’t getting his teammates involved in a big way. Jalen Green is another player who can go off in a hurry for the Houston Rockets, his explosiveness is a great weapon for him so Jakob will be important in stopping him as well. At the point of attack you can put Quickley on him, but he will need some help for sure. Jabari Smith Jr has been a threat offensively lately as well and you can not sag off of him. Dillon Brooks is going to be a headache on the defensive end for Scottie Barnes who he will most likely guard. Houston is not an elite team but if you are not careful they will run the scoreboard up on you, like they just did the other night against the Indiana Pacers.
Offensively for Toronto, with Sengun patrolling the paint, life will be easier than most big men matchups. Scottie Barnes will no doubt garner immense defensive attention, like he has been for quite some time. With Sengun in the paint it would be nice to see Barnes essentially force the issue and get downhill as much as possible. Barnes’ playmaking is always there but the scoring punch should be on full display tonight. Barrett, who has been a marvelous driver during his time in Toronto and similar to Barnes needs to attack a Sengun patrolled paint as much as possible. With the recent trades having been made, there will be more on ball reps for Quickley and Barrett, and Toronto will seemingly have to go deep on their bench if they hope to win.
This game should be fairly close, but it can get ugly very quickly for Toronto if they don’t keep Houston in check offensively. It is a wait and see if the newly acquired Ochai Agbaji and Kelly Olynyk will suit up for Toronto tonight, and if they are active, this piece will be updated.
Tip-Off: 7:30 pm EST | TV: SN | Radio: TSN RADIO 1050
PG: Immanuel Quickley,
SG: Gary Trent Jr , Gradey Dick
SF: RJ Barrett, Bruce Brown, Jalen McDaniels, Jordan Nwora, Garrett Temple
PF: Scottie Barnes, Chris Boucher,
C: Jakob Poeltl,
Inactives: Ochai Agbaji(trade pending), Kelly Olynyk(trade pending)
PG: Aaron Holiday,
SG: Jalen Green, Amen Thompson
SF: Dillon Brooks, Cam Whitmore
PF: Jabari Smith, Jae’sean Tate
C: Alperen Sengun, Jeff Green
Inactives: Fred VanVleet, Tari Eason
Toronto is favored by 2.0, the O/U is 230.5