Game 40 Preview: Houston Rockets vs. Toronto Raptors

When the NBA released its schedule for the truncated season, the first thing I noticed was that every Western Conference team played three Eastern Conference team twice and the rest just once. So it was important that those three teams not be Miami, Chicago, Orlando, or any other team that is really good or cause us trouble (the Philadelphia Thaddeus Youngs come to mind).

So when the Rockets drew Charlotte, Toronto, and Washington as the three teams we would play two legs against, I was pretty excited. And for good reason, too. We are 4-0 against them, and still have Charlotte coming to the Toyota Center next week.

Speaking of the schedule, long road trips are always tough.

*Pause to let that insight sink in.*

The next four games for the Rockets are on the road. In fact, out of the next five games, the Rockets finish a back-to-back tonight, then get a couple of days off (hold on, here comes to gut punch), then it's four game in five days, with three of the games on the road.

The good news: of the next five games, the Rockets could easily go 4-1. After Toronto, they are at New Jersey, at Cleveland, at Oklahoma City, and then home versus the Bobcats. But if these Rockets pack it up and get nervous about the trade deadline, they could just as easily go 1-4. All the Eastern teams are unlikely to make the playoffs. And getting three of them on the road is a blessing. These are winnable games that a playoff team in the Western Conference should take care of. I know last night's loss, and the one before that, and the two before that were tough. But good teams bounce back. We'll see if we're any good.

Matchups after the jump. Tip is at 6pm CST.

Matchups:

PG: Kyle Lowry vs. Jose Calderon:

Lowry has to be the better player tonight. I like Calderon, but tonight HAS to belong to Lowry.

Advantage: Rockets

SG: Kevin Martin vs. DeMar DeRozan:

Remember when I said they were even last time? You all laughed at me.

Remember in that game when DeRozan played well and Martin didn't? Then I laughed at you.

Ready...go.

Advantage: Raptors

SF: Chandler Parsons vs. James Johnson:

Since Alex Trebek is from Canada, and I love Jeopardy, we're going with this:

Alex Trebek: Were it not for Chandler Parsons, the Rockets would have been blown out in the first half against the Celtics.

Me: What is a phrase I never thought anyone would ever utter?

Alex: Correct. Select a clue.

Me: "As seen on Clutchfans for $1000"

Alex: User "I Ball for Lulz" once claimed that this man "should trade everyone, and then himself."

Me: Who is Daryl Morey?

Alex: Correct, and before we go to commercial break, check out the new trade "I Ball for Lulz" posted. In it, the Rockets trade ______ (insert players here) and __ first round pick(s) for ______ (insert players here who are clearly worse than the Rockets players or totally unobtainable).

Advantage: Rockets

PF: Luis Scola vs. Ed Davis:

Amir Johnson is day-to-day with a knee injury. Ed Davis started for him on Monday and was relatively quiet (6/7 with a couple of blocks). It's not easy to just come in and start, but having an extra day to practice means we might see a more aggressive Davis.

Whoever starts for the Raptors, Scola should have his way in the paint. We could see a lot of post-ups for our friend from Argentina tonight.

Advantage: Rockets

C: Samuel Dalembert vs. Aaron Gray:

Yet another reason the Rockets cannot lose this game: no Andrea Bargnani for the Raptors, who is out until the weekend it seems.

By the way, who lit a fire under Dalembert? And whoever you are, please keep it up.

Advantage: Rockets

---

Bench/Role Players:

Raptors: Jerryd Bayless, Leandro Barbosa, Linas Kleiza, Jamaal Magloire

Rockets: Goran Dragic, Chase Budinger, Patrick Patterson, Courtney Lee

Advantage: Rockets

Injuries/Inactives:

Raptors: Bargnani out, Amir Johnson day-to-day

Rockets: Jordan Hill out

Prediction: Rockets 102-88

And I know plenty of us aren't the biggest Timberwolves fans, but this video is too awesome to not post:

Minnesota Timbertrolls: The TV Series (via 83markitos)

Make sure you get in on TCWHRO (we have to figure out another way to say that)'s fantasy basketball game. Details here. Just make your predictions in the comments, and maybe explain how you came to that conclusion so we have something to talk about.

Rockets vs Raptors coverage

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