The Toronto Raptors did not make any major moves before the NBA trade deadline, but the Houston Rockets sure did. Can they cash in on the NBA odds in their first game back?
The Toronto Raptors Can Win Because…
Their opponent is likely going to be integrating a new player into its regular rotation. The Houston Rockets might benefit in the long run from adding K.J. McDaniels, but in this game, the reality of trying to move McDaniels into the rotation could disrupt what Houston is trying to do. McDaniels is the one player in Houston’s recent flurry of deals that is an everyday player. Houston acquired Pablo Prigioni from the New York Knicks while sending away Alexey Shved. In a separate deal, Houston shipped Isaiah Canaan and a second-round pick to Philadelphia in exchange for McDaniels.
Let’s talk about McDaniels: He is a serviceable player with upside. He averages just over nine points and just under four rebounds per game. Having done so in Philadelphia, though, means that on the Rockets, he won’t score as much. Yet, McDaniels is 6-6 at the shooting guard spot, which gives him considerable length on defense and can make him a bothersome presence for opponents. McDaniels is likely to be of more value on defense than on offense in this game for Houston. Yet, since the Rockets average 103.1 points per game on offense, McDaniels could cause them to regress in the short run, which you should think about when looking over the posted NBA betting odds. That should work to Toronto’s benefit. The Raptors will have played Atlanta on Friday night. After dealing with the Hawks’ ball movement, Houston’s offense – which doesn’t generate the same fluidity in terms of passing – should be easier to defend. The Raptors can swarm James Harden and force other Houston players, such as McDaniels, to make shots. It could really work for them.
The Houston Rockets Can Win Because…
They're a better team with McDaniels and have a defender who can match up with DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors.
McDaniels doesn’t have to be better on offense to help Houston win this game against Toronto. DeRozan is a 6-7 shooting guard who can and does play over the top of a lot of the defenders who are thrown at him. McDaniels is a little thinner than DeRozan at 205 pounds. DeRozan is 220. However, McDaniels’ length at 6-6 will enable him to challenge DeRozan’s shots when he’s on the floor. As long as McDaniels is there to bother DeRozan, Houston can contain a part of the Raptors’ backcourt and allow a big game from MVP candidate James Harden to take care of the rest at the offensive end of the floor. Harden is averaging 27.4 points, 6.8 assists, and 5.7 rebounds. He has played solid defense, a big change from the comedy show of last season. Dwight Howard is injured, but Harden continues to win games for this team with comparatively little help. Houston has surprised people this season, so why should the Rockets stop now?
The addition of K.J. McDaniels throws a monkey wrench into this game. If you had to bet, though, McDaniels is probably going to slow things down at first rather than excel. In a month, Houston could be a lot better, but for now, McDaniels will probably be a drag on this team. Take the Raptors with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Toronto +3.5 at Bodog