The Rockets might be down Fred VanVleet tonight, but they still have the goods to give the host Raptors a tough time. See why FVV’s absence might be overvalued as our NBA picks break down the matchup.
Something will be missing when the Toronto Raptors host the Houston Rockets at Scotiabank Arena on Friday night.
It was supposed to be the homecoming of Fred VanVleet, but the former Raptors’ star guard will have to sit this one out due to injury. And while Toronto fans will be bummed that they’ll miss out on seeing Steady Freddy on the court he called home for many years, his absence certainly helps when it comes to the NBA odds.
Because despite the Raps’ recent struggles, they are slight home favorites in tonight’s matchup against the Rockets.
Can Toronto give Houston a problem and grab the win? I break down this matchup and bring you the best bet in my NBA picks and predictions for Rockets vs. Raptors on February 9.
Rockets vs Raptors odds
Rockets vs Raptors predictions
The Toronto Raptors made some interesting moves leading up to yesterday’s trade deadline. Out goes Dennis Schroder, and in come Kelly Olynyk and Ochai Agbaji. And maybe most surprisingly, Bruce Brown stayed put.
So, the Raptors will finish out the season with the roster mostly as currently constituted as the front office will see if they can build around Scottie Barnes, RJ Barrett, and Immanuel Quickley. And with Fred VanVleet sitting tonight’s game out, the Raptors’ focus should solely be on the Houston Rockets.
Toronto is coming off a 123-117 win over the Charlotte Hornets, but it wasn’t pretty. The Raptors trailed most of the way before a comeback late. And despite grabbing the win, they certainly didn’t look like they should be a 7-point favorite. The victory was just the third in Toronto’s last 15 games.
Ever since trading for Barrett and Quickley, the Raptors have been a much better team when it comes to the simple things like ball handling and shooting. But unfortunately, the defense has been a bit of a disaster.
Since the start of January, (when they traded OG Anunoby to the New York Knicks) the Detroit Pistons are the only team with a worse defensive rating than the Raptors, who surrender the third-most points per game over that period at 122.4. They are also allowing opponents to hit the seventh-most threes per game.
Now, you might think that a sub-par shooting team like the Rockets would have a problem without VanVleet on the floor, and maybe not be able to take advantage of this matchup. But don’t underestimate this Rockets team.
Led by Dillon Brooks, the Rockets do their best work on the defensive end of the floor. They rank seventh in defensive rating and sixth in opponent-effective field goal percentage. And while the Raps’ offense has been better, they rank just 19th in offensive rating since the move for Barrett and Quickley.
It also feels like sportsbooks overrate VanVleet’s value to the Rockets a little. The veteran point guard has missed three games this season. While the Rockets are 0-3 straight up in those games, they’re 3-0 against the spread. And it must be noted that those games came against the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets, arguably the best team in the NBA in the Boston Celtics, and a 132-129 road loss as 8-point underdogs against the Indiana Pacers last time out.
And in that game against the Pacers, the Rockets proved they could put up some points against less-than-good defensive teams. The Raptors fall into that category.
On top of that, these teams played just back on Feb. 2 in Houston and the Rockets crushed the Raps 135-106.
It’s hard to trust this Raptors team as a favorite. Even a short one. They’ve been favored just twice since trading Pascal Siakam. They lost to the shell of the Memphis Grizzlies and probably should have lost to the Hornets. Good defensive teams really give the Raps issues. There is some value with the Rockets on the moneyline tonight.
My best bet: Rockets moneyline (+105 at PointsBet)
Rockets vs Raptors same-game parlay
Just because I like the Rockets tonight doesn’t mean I think Alperen Segun is going to go for 30 points tonight. In fact, I think books have over-adjusted his point total with VanVleet’s absence.
Sengun’s points prop is sitting at 24.5. He averages 21.6 points per game this season. He’s only gone Over that number once in his last seven games. And in the four games he’s played without VanVleet this season, he’s put up 22, 19, and 20 points. Jak Poeltl should mark him up well enough to keep him below this number. Add the Under 24.5 points.
And let’s close this same-game parlay out with Scottie Barnes to have a big night on the boards. The Rockets do rank 26th in effective field goal percentage and are a middling 14th in rebounding rate. Barnes averages 8.0 rebounds per game this season. His rebounding prop is sitting at 6.5 but juiced way to the Over, so instead I’m looking at his alt rebounds 8+.
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Rockets vs Raptors spread and Over/Under analysis
The Raptors opened this matchup as 2-point home favorites but some 1.5s are starting to pop up on the board. Part of the reason for this line has to be because of the Rockets’ struggles on the road, where they’re just 5-18 straight. But as I broke down above, I’m not sure the right team is favored in this matchup and will happily take a shot on the Houston moneyline in this one.
When it comes to the total, that hit the board at 233 and has been bet up slightly to 234 as of Friday afternoon. This total is in line with the Feb. 2 meeting, which went over the closing total of 232 thanks to the Rockets putting up 135 points. Now, Houston may not get to 135 again, but it’s more than capable of clearing its season average of 113.7 against an abysmal Raptors defense. With Toronto being a slightly better team at home, I think it should be able to do enough to send this one Over the number.
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Rockets vs Raptors betting trend to know
The Raptors have only hit the Moneyline in 28 of their last 71 games for -26.1 units. Find more NBA betting trends for Rockets vs. Raptors.
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Rockets vs Raptors game info
|Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
|Friday, February 9, 2024
|7:30 p.m. ET
|Space City Network, Sportsnet
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