Toronto pk at Houston O/U 212
It’s not hard to make a case for betting against the Houston Rockets in any pointspread range where they’ll need to win the game in order to cover the number. It’s been a long, disappointing season for the JB Bickerstaff’s squad, fighting for the #8 seed in the West just one year after reaching the Western Conference Finals.
Wednesday Night’s home loss to Utah was the latest frustrating defeat for Houston, as they blew an 18 point second half lead, losing on a last second dunk by Derrick Favors. The loss marked Houston’s third consecutive defeat, and fifth in their last seven games. Their only two wins during this two week span have come against lowly Minnesota (they still didn’t cover the spread in victory) and Memphis when the Grizzlies had only one starter healthy enough to play. This is not a confident team; nor are they a good team. Bickerstaff’s post-game quote following the meltdown against the Jazz didn’t inspire much confidence in this bettor either: “The season’s not over …we have no more excuses.” I’ve heard similar quotes from Bickerstaff for the better part of the last three months.
And frankly, I’m not convinced that there’s any sort of internal motivation for these Rockets to reach the playoffs. This team is likely to get blown up in the offseason. Bickerstaff is likely to be looking for a new employer as well. Their reward for making the playoffs would be a matchup against Golden State or San Antonio; two series where Houston could very easily suffer an embarrassing sweep. It was very clear on Wednesday – the Jazz cared more about reaching the playoffs than the Rockets did!
Meanwhile, Toronto is coming off a poorly played loss at Boston; a game where the Raptors were without starting point guard Kyle Lowry and it showed! Ice cold backup Cory Joseph was a -22 in his 36 minutes of playing time. Lowry is expected back in the lineup here, fresh and rested, an absolute difference maker against a shoddy Houston defense.
Last, but not least, the Raptors have been very good off a loss. Their only two game losing streak since the first week of January came immediately before and after the All Star break, excusable defeats. Dwane Casey’s squad is 6-1 SU in their last six tries coming off a single defeat; primed to earn another victory in that role tonight.