Start time: 8:00 PM ET
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Amir Johnson, Aaron Gray
Houston: Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, Chandler Parsons, Luis Scola, Samuel Dalembert
Toronto: Linas Kleiza will play tonight, while Andrea Bargnani still doesn’t have a set timetable for his return.
Houston: Jordan Hill and Hasheem Thabeet are both expected to miss tonight’s game.
While I’m happy for the return of real NBA basketball, I’m slightly less enthusiastic about the Raptors’ return after six days of rest. With no Bargnani, they’re going to have a tough time beating any NBA team, much less one of the hottest teams in the league in the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets don’t have star power and they don’t get a lot of attention, but they are no joke. After winning four of their last five games — including impressive victories over the Thunder and 76ers — they’re tied with the Lakers for fifth in the Western Conference and they’re just one game behind the Lakers for third. While they’re ninth in the league in Offensive Rating with 105 points scored per 100 possessions, they’re all about balance when it comes to scoring — no Rocket averages over 20 points per game but nine of them average at least seven points.
Houston’s biggest surprise this season might be the play of Samuel Dalembert, who is only averaging 23 minutes per game but currently has the best Player Efficiency Rating (17.3) of his 10-season NBA career. And the Rockets’ second unit featuring solid role players like Goran Dragic, Courtney Lee, Chase Budinger and Patrick Patterson helps make up one of the strongest benches in the league.
Keep an eye on Houston’s perimeter defense tonight — with an opponents’ three-point percentage of .310, they guard the arc better than any team in the league outside of Boston.
- Jonas Valanciunas scored 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting to lead Lietuvos Rytas to the Eurocup quarterfinals with an 80-74 win over Benetton today.
- Weigh in on theScore’s “Greatest Sports Games Ever” bracket. I voted for NBA 2K12, of course.
- I’d be way more entertained by the NBA All-Star Game if they let this guy do the commentary: