Houston Rockets vs. Toronto Raptors Betting Pick – February 26, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| February 26, 2021 3:05 am PDT

The Rockets travel to Tampa to take on the Raptors in this cross-conference basketball matchup. Yes, that’s right; I did say Tampa and not Toronto. The Raptors continue to play their home games in Tampa due to travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and it’s been decided that they will continue to do so all season long.

The recent head-to-head record between these two is close, with the Rockets slightly edging things, three wins to two in the previous five meetings. They have alternated wins over the last six games when Toronto has been the home team, a term I use loosely this season. If that continues tonight, then the Rockets will come away with the victory.

Over the previous ten encounters between them, they both have an average score of 111 points, proving how tight things have been. In fact, most of their stats after those games are identical.

Rockets vs. Raptors Match Odds

Rockets +7-110
Raptors -7-110
Rockets To Win+245
Raptors To Win-275
Over 220 Points-110
Under 220 Points-110

The betting has changed a fair bit in the short time that it has been opened, suggesting that the bookmakers may have originally called this game wrong. For starters, the spread, which still looks a tad big, has been cut a point. The points total is increasing as it opened at 218, and I imagine it will rise to 221 by game time.

Rockets News

Houston, we have a problem! The Rockets are not enjoying things at present, and they find themselves detached at the bottom of a relatively weak Southwest Division. They currently only own a better record than two other teams in the NBA, the Pistons and the Timberwolves. They have lost their last nine in a row, showing little fight in doing so. February had started off promising for them as they picked up wins in two of their first three games, but it has been downhill ever since.

Their away form is poor, but they have won slightly more game on the road than at home this season. They have lost their previous six road trips, and apart from getting to within five against the 76ers, they have had some heavy defeats along the way. Even then, I believe they only got that close because Philadelphia took their foot off the throttle after leading by 26 points at halftime

Here are the latest betting trends for Houston:

  • They have only won one of their previous nine matches against the spread.
  • The Rockets have won two-thirds of their last nine games against the spread when facing the Raptors.
  • Houston is 4-1 against the spread in their previous five games on the road against Toronto.
  • They have lost six of their last seven matches against the spread when coming up against opposition from the Eastern Conference.
  • The total has gone under in 12 of their last 18 matches against teams based in the Atlantic Division.

The Rockets have a misfiring offense that would struggle to get out of Houston, let alone make it to the moon! They are averaging 108 points per game and are the worst team at shooting three-pointers this season. This is detrimental because the further they fall behind in games, the more they need to shoot from distance. They often miss, which means falling further behind, and it becomes a vicious circle.

They aren’t that much better from close range as they have a field goal percentage of 44%, which is the fourth-lowest in the NBA.

Their defense is better, and they are reducing their opponents to around a 45% field goal percentage which means they are covering them pretty well. However, their defensive rebounding has been an issue for them all season long.

They haven’t defended quite so well on the road this season and are conceding three more points per game on average.

The Rockets are blocking well this season, averaging a little under six per game, which is an impressive average to have

Houston is looking for a change, and it is believed that they want to go down the youthful route to nurture a young side to success. This means getting rid of some of the old guard, and it is reported that they have or will be releasing four-time NBA all-star DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins hasn’t been the same player since returning from injury in 2018, and although he remains a big name in the sport, it is believed that his absence won’t be a big void to fill.

The Rockets remain without Exum and Wood, who both have long-term injuries.

Raptors News

Toronto currently sits fifth in the Eastern Conference, despite having a negative win/loss record. The Raptors had a recent four-game win streak snapped by the 76ers and have since lost to the Heat. The defeats won’t be too much of a concern as the 76ers are sitting top of the Eastern Conference, and the Heat are riding a four-game win streak, so the losses came against two in-form teams.

As you might imagine, they have struggled for consistency at ‘home’ this season, and this is reflected in their split 7-7 record. They have alternated defeats with wins over the previous five games in Tampa.

Here are the latest betting trends for Toronto:

  • Toronto is 4-2 against the spread in their previous six matches.
  • Four of their last five games have gone under the betting total.
  • The total has gone over in six of their previous nine games against Houston.
  • Only two of their last nine games have failed to go under the points total at home.
  • They have won four of their previous six games against the spread when taking on teams from the West.
  • The Raptors have won four of their last five games played on a Friday.

The Raptors have an average-looking offense that has rebounded terribly throughout the season, although that shouldn’t hinder them too much against the Rockets, who themselves aren’t rebounding well.

They have been deadly from the free-throw line making 82% of their shots from there, so the Rockets will need to keep their composure, especially if they fall behind. Also, the Raptors like to get involved in a brawl here and there and play an aggressive basketball style, so the Rockets will have to be wary of getting sucked in.

Their defense has been excellent, and they have also restricted their opponents to a field goal percentage of 45%.

They are incredibly hard-working, reflected in their impressive steals count, which is the second-highest in the league.

Chris Boucher has often been the key player in their defense, and I, for one, am surprised that he doesn’t get slightly more game time. He has been a blocking machine this season, and he has blocked more three-point attempts than any other player in the league this season.

Fred VanVleet is having the best season of his career, but unfortunately for him, he was overlooked for the upcoming all-star game, which disappointed his coach Nick Nurse. It will be interesting to see how he reacts over the coming weeks.

The Raptors have no reported absentees for this matchup.

Rockets vs. Raptors Betting Pick

Pick
  • Under 220 Points
    -110

This could become a scrappy affair, especially as both teams are not the best shooters and are dreadful at rebounding. This will suit the Raptors, who like to get involved in these types of games, using their guile to see them over the line. However, this might also suit the Rockets as they haven’t had much luck playing basketball recently, so why not make it a fight and see how they do? Because of all this, I will make under the points total my pick tonight as both teams could be focused on other things rather than scoring.

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