Tonight, the Toronto Raptors hope to extend their home game winning streak to 13 as they play host to the Houston Rockets. The Raptors’ recent play has garnered them contender status as the regular season begins to wind down.
The Dinos will be tested tonight as they face James Harden, Dwight Howard and the rest of the Rockets squad. The boys from the Six are eager as ever and their title hopes are taking off as they face a worthy foe in this Houston team. Let’s see how Toronto can capitalize on tonight’s match up.
DeMar DeRozan will need to lockdown James Harden. Throughout 62 games this season, the Beard is averaging almost 29 points, 6.4 boards and 7 assists. If Houston’s record wasn’t 30-32, there’s no doubt Harden would be among the top MVP candidates just like he was last year. Kyle Lowry must also play smart as he matches up with the pesky Patrick Beverley. While his numbers don’t exactly pop out, Beverley is one of the most annoying defenders.
Protect the Rim
While Dwight Howard isn’t the elite big he was in earlier years, it’s important that we minimize any opportunities he gets when in the post. It’s a good defensive test for Jonas Valanciunas and Bismack Biyombo. Toronto is a team that depends on our star guards for wins. If JV and Biz can hold down the paint, it’ll help for this game and the playoffs.
Houston is great at getting to the line. In fact, they lead the league in that category with an impressive 30.2 trips to the charity stripe every game. While the “Hack-A-Howard” strategy might be a big factor in the amount of free throws attempted by this team, it’s important not to be too physical when disrupting Houston’s offense.
X-Factor: DeMar DeRozan
It’s pretty simple. If DeMar can play suffocating defense on James Harden for 48 minutes, the Rockets have no option B for offense. With that being said, DD will also need to capitalize on Harden’s unforgivable defensive lapses.