Basketball on Wednesday! We have an intriguing amount of basketball games. The Knicks and Nets battle for New York again, this time, the Knicks are battling to remain one game out of the playoff race. Detroit vs. Indiana represents two teams on the wrong side of streaks. The Pistons recently lost to the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Pacers lost control of the top seed in the East, and went 8-10 in the month of March. Golden State vs. San Antonio could be fun, but history suggest that it will be boring (these two teams create some pretty lackluster basketball), and Clippers-Suns will offer the viewer fun.
The Game of the Night goes to the Houston Rockets at Toronto Raptors, two teams gearing up for a playoff run. Both teams have work to do however, and a win here can help. The Raptors sit in the third slot in the East, but remained tied with Chicago at 42-32. As for Houston, the Rockets are currently slotted into the fourth seed, and like Toronto, it seems like that’s the highest it can go. Instead, the Rockets will be looking to keep Portland off of their heels. Because of that, the Rockets-Raptors game should offer the viewing audience some intrigue.
The Rockets are in an interesting position. In terms of efficiency, the Rockets rank in the top twelve on offense (5th) and defense (12th). James Harden (25.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists) mans the offense, while Dwight Howard (18.5 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocks) holds down the defense and protects the rim. From there, the Rockets are a hodgepodge of basketball traits. Chandler Parsons serves as another do-it-all offensive player, Terrence Jones doesn’t shoot well, but scores at the rim, and the duo of Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley serve as a one-two punch at the point guard position. Unfortunately, Beverley’s injury provides cloudiness to Houston’s title chances. Beverley’s torn meniscus dampers Houston, as Beverley serves as Houston’s lone perimeter defender.
As for the Raptors, Toronto is a nudge better than Houston in terms of efficiency, ranking in the top ten in both offense (10th) and defensive (9th). Kyle Lowry (17.4 points, 7.6 assists) has taken his game to another level, leading Toronto to an Atlantic Division title while working on both sides of the ball. DeMar DeRozan (22.7 points) profiles as a the inefficient shooting guard, and the combination of Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas works as a successful two-man post combination. Since the Rudy Gay trade, the Raptors improved and became a team, and after Indiana and Miami, the Raptors seem to be the strongest team in the Eastern Conference (slight lean over Chicago for me, even with the coaching advantage), and that could result in a chance to push Indiana in the second round.
The Call: Rockets 104, Raptors 101. The Rockets should get through this game, but the Raptors are a tough opponent. Some Kyle Lowry revenge potential, but the battle between Harden and DeRozan should give Houston an advantage, and Howard should be able to work against Toronto’s duo of tough low-post players. Toronto should be able to make this a close game, but Houston should pull this out.