Houston hopes their free agent additions and the growth of existing assets will translate into a season similar to 2014-15. While fans wait for October 26th opening night versus the Lakers hopefully this series will appease your cravings.
To that end, this series showcases the Rockets 82 games noting the pregame analysis, post game grades, and relevant video. Furthermore, SCS will highlight significant changes made by their opponents this summer. So, here it is – – enjoy all 82 posts as SCS takes you back over the 2015-16 season.
Game 73 – Toronto Raptors
In the Rockets 73rd game they beat the Raptors to take the season series, something they hadn’t done in several seasons.
My pregame analysis pinpointed how the teams were operating from opposite ends of the spectrum. Houston being consistently inconsistent and Toronto succeeding via consistency:
Not much has changed record wise since the teams last met. The Raptors continue to chase down the Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference title, trailing by 2 games, but just one in the loss column and Toronto own the tie-break. The Rockets are exactly where they were the last time they played, losing games most had checked off as gimmes, winning games expected to be routs and clinging to the 8-seed.
Toronto arrives following a rare loss, but it occurred following 5 games in 7 nights, without Kyle Lowry or Patrick Patterson in the line up. Though both former Rockets could have laced them up if it were a playoff game they were given the night off to capitalize on an extended 4-days off to heal their nagging ailments. Either that, or it was a well disguised ‘rest’ period for both. Further, both Jonas Valanciunas and James Johnson returned after missing several games last week while nursing injury, with some inevitable rust.
Both Raptors All-Star back court members got tossed from the game in yet another zebra special. Harden for his part complained equally as much, but got the home court calls along with a triple-double which helped Houston snag the victory.
Post game grades highlight Harden’s super human effort. They also pinpointed how much closer the match was. Despite that Harden registered a triple-double although he also had 7 turnovers.
Helping the Rockets to victory the referees tossed both DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Howard was especially poor on this night with the Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas eating him for breakfast. Valanciunas held the upper hand on both Howard and Clint Capela.
The full post game grades and analysis can be viewed here.
James Harden registered a triple-double of 32 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists, and just for good measure 7 turnovers.
Jonas Valanciunas offered a double-double of 16 points, 18 rebounds featuring 8 offensive rebounds.
While many pundits predicted the Raptors would be in the playoff mix few saw them growing and moving up to the second seed in the Eastern Conference last season. Toronto exercised the monkey off their back via advancing out of the first round, so GM Masai Ujiri elected to stick with the core and improve internally.
Fred VanVleet was a stand-out in Summer League resulting in Toronto signing him to $50k contract. VanVleet will arrive in training camp with the opportunity to make the team or the Raptors 905 D-League squad.
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