The Houston Rockets have picked up a couple more injuries, and they’ll be playing on zero days of rest Monday night, but it’s going to be difficult to add the Toronto Raptors to our basketball picks.
Jason’s record as of Mar. 27: 61-58-5 ATS, 6-11 Totals, plus-2.15 units ML
At least they have a medical plan. Life is tough for NBA players – sure, the money’s good, but look at what they’re putting their bodies through. The Houston Rockets have two more injured players to worry about: Donatas Motiejunas is out for a week or two with a sore back, and Patrick Beverley appears to be gone for the season with a torn ligament in his wrist. Painful.
Speaking of painful: the Toronto Raptors. They got back in the win column at our expense Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers, prevailing 94-83 as 8-point home faves. But the Raptors are still 6-13 SU and ATS over their past 19 games, and it looks like they’ll still be without Kyle Lowry when they host the Rockets Monday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA-TV). The NBA odds at press time have Toronto laying 1.5 points.
So Many Suckers on My Sacroiliac
We’re already more than 70 games into this regular season, and we’ve ranted plenty about Toronto’s shortcomings since the All-Star break. But in case you’re new on the scene, here’s a quick recap: Lowry (19.6 PER, plus-3.8 BPM) was outstanding at the start of the season, then turned into a pumpkin after about 30 games. Injuries caught up to him, first slowing down his performance, and then forcing him out of the lineup. Lowry’s expected to miss Monday’s game with back spasms; he’s sat out seven of Toronto’s last 15 contests.
As Lowry goes, so go the Raptors (43-30 SU, 33-39-1 ATS). They were able to withstand the early-season absence of DeMar DeRozan (16.3 PER, minus-2.3 BPM) while Lowry led the offense, but now that Lowry’s on the fritz, DeRozan’s midrange proclivities are hurting more than they’re helping. It’s also a considerable step down at both ends of the floor between Lowry and his replacement, Greivis Vasquez (12.9 PER, minus-1.2 BPM).
Meanwhile, coach Dwayne Casey has done a questionable job with his substitution patterns. Jonas Valanciunas (20.6 PER, minus-0.7 BPM) and James Johnson (18.6 PER, plus-3.4 BPM) aren’t getting enough minutes, which makes us wonder if something’s going on behind the scenes that would explain why. But we’re trying not to put too much thought into it. As long as it keeps happening, we’re going to keep fading them with our NBA picks.
My Iron Lung
It’s the situation with the Rockets (50-23 SU, 43-30 ATS) that requires a little more brain power. Beverley (11.4 PER, plus-0.8 BPM) doesn’t put up a lot of flashy numbers, but he’s a solid two-way point guard who’s meshed well with James Harden (26.7 PER, plus-8.4 BPM). That job will now be handled by Jason Terry (11.5 PER, minus-0.5 PER) and back-up Pablo Prigioni (6.5 PER, minus-5.5 BPM in Houston).
Then you have Motiejunas (14.4 PER, minus-0.1 BPM), who has turned into a very good stretch-4 this year, hitting 36.8 percent of his trey attempts while improving at the defensive end as well. Motiejunas has started 62 games this season; with Terrence Jones (18.7 PER, plus-0.3 BPM) yet to return from his partially collapsed lung, that means Josh Smith (15.3 PER, plus-1.0 BPM) moves back into the starting lineup.
Things could be worse. Harden is playing like an MVP, Dwight Howard (18.4 PER, minus-1.1 BPM) has looked pretty good since returning from his knee injury, and the Rockets still have some depth on the bench. (**Editors Note: Latest news: Dwight Howard out for the Rockets on Monday) For example, Corey Brewer (14.7 PER, minus-1.0 BPM) had 15 points against the Washington Wizards (+2 at home) in Sunday’s 99-91 victory, leading all Houston players at plus-14. We’ll take that level of performance against the reeling Raptors.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Rockets