Houston Rockets vs Toronto Raptors: Players to watch
The players to watch for the Houston Rockets are Alperen Sengun and Jalen Green. The Rockets have recently leaned into more Sengun post-ups, and it has helped their offense. The trade-off for more efficient shooting has been an uptick in turnovers. How Sengun handles the Raptors’ swarming defense could determine the outcome of the game.
Jalen Green is coming off his best game of the season and is faced with the tenacious Raptors’ defense. Green closed last season on a torrential run where he scored 30 or more points in six of his final seven games. In the one game where he missed 30 points, he faced the Raptors and was held to eight points.
After a rough four-game stretch, Green is in the midst of another strong run. Over his past three games, he is averaging 25.7 points per game on 52.9% shooting and 40% shooting from 3-point range. Has Green learned from last season’s encounter? Or will the Raptors once again shut him down? The scoreline will likely give us our answer.
The players to watch for the Toronto Raptors are OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet. With Pascal Siakam out with injury, Anunoby and VanVleet are the Raptors’ one-two punch. Anunoby is the league’s best thief. His 3.1 steals per game is far and away the best mark in the league. If the Rockets aren’t careful, he could very easily end the game with five steals, and that alone could be the difference in the game.
VanVleet, much like Anunoby, is an expert in the art of the steal. His 2.1 steals per game are third in the league, but he offers more punch on offense. With Siakam out, VanVleet is the Raptors' go-to playmaker, and he excels in the role. His 7.6 assists, paired with 1.3 turnovers per game, make him one of the most efficient high-volume creators. Add in the fact that he is also one of the best high-volume 3-point shooters, and VanVleet has a claim as the most underrated player in the entire NBA.