The Houston Rockets limp into tonight’s contest with the Toronto Raptors on a rare two-game winning streak. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. are out, so Alperen Sengun and co. will have to put in extra work to extend the streak to three.
The Toronto Raptors are 23-30 and in 12th place in the Eastern Conference. That’s obviously a surprise, and their point differential (yes, a flawed statistic) has them as more of a seventh seed than their current position.
Toronto poses a threat to Houston in more ways than just as an opponent on the court. The Raptors are considering the prospect of being sellers at the trade deadline. If they do, the safe bet is that Scottie Barnes won’t be available, but everyone else would be. O.G. Anunoby seems to be the prize, and he’s under contract through the end of next season (with a player option for 2024-25 that he’ll likely drop). Pascal Siakam is the biggest name, but his contract makes most trades with contenders difficult. Finally, Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. each have player options for next year, so they’re basically rentals. That means that top teams with first round picks will have more options and leverage when dealing with Rafael Stone over a potential Eric Gordon move. Basically, Houston fans shouldn’t want the Raptors to be sellers at the deadline because they’ve got so many solid players with not much time left on their deals.
Another thing to note is that Houston plays in Oklahoma City tomorrow night. If this game gets out of hand, Stephen Silas may waive the white flag early. Conversely, if Houston hangs in the game, Silas may be forced to pull back a bit tomorrow evening. I’m not saying that he should do either of those things, nor am I supporting or against those decisions. It’s just how the modern NBA operates.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest