Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Houston Rockets
Preseason records: Raptors (1-2), Rockets (1-1)
Where to watch
Date: Monday, Oct. 11
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario
Raptors vs. Rockets game preview
After its first three preseason contests, Toronto is set to take the floor for the front end of a back-to-back on when it welcomes Houston to Scotiabank Arena Monday.
The Raptors are fresh off of a 113-11 loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday, while the Rockets were last in action on Thursday, as they suffered a 113-106 loss to the Miami Heat.
Here's what to watch for.
A rookie showcase
While the Raptors are in more of a franchise retool and the Rockets are in a full rebuild, both franchises are doing so while relying on young talent.
On Monday, Houston rookie Jalen Green, who was selected second overall in the 2021 NBA Draft will share the spotlight with Toronto's Scottie Barnes, who was selected just two picks later. Through two preseason games, the prolific Green is averaging 16.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, though the numbers have come on inefficient splits of 34.5 percent shooting from the field and 26.7 percent shooting from 3-point range.
The efficiency will get there, but the talent is undeniable.
Jalen Green to the rack for his first #NBAPreseason points! pic.twitter.com/d9h7qKISWT- NBA (@NBA) October 6, 2021
Barnes, who is a much different player, has impressed with his stat-stuffing averages of 10.0 points, 6.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds through preseason games and his infectious energy. His playmaking deserves some attention of its own.
Another 1 https://t.co/WMcFlIBxQG pic.twitter.com/rAzAolYBoZ- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 10, 2021
In addition to the top five picks, Toronto has relied on rookies Dalano Banton and Justin Champagnie to play big minutes, while Houston has four more first-round picks in Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher. There's a lot of talent in that aforementioned group, but Sengun is looking like a major steal.
😃😁 pic.twitter.com/XhwIqrPDDM- Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) October 8, 2021
Heavy starter minutes?
With Monday's game serving as the front end of a back-to-back, head coach Nick Nurse could treat this as more of a dress rehearsal for the regular season, which is just eight days away. Since the Raptors are back in action on Tuesday, Monday could be the day in which the starters log big minutes before taking a step back - or a night off - in Washington on Tuesday.
What could that look like?
Through three preseason contests, OG Anunoby (27.9), Fred VanVleet (27.3), Barnes (27.1), Precious Achiuwa (25.6), Gary Trent Jr. (22.8), Svi Mykhailiuk (21.6) and Champagnie (21.0) are each averaging over 20 minutes per game. There's a chance that some combination of the above players reach the 30-minute playing time mark with Nurse's rotation resembling that of something you would see during the regular season.
With Chris Boucher, Pascal Siakam and Yuta Watanabe still out, the rotation won't fully be set, but Monday could provide an idea. Additionally, center Khem Birch has cleared the league's health and safety protocols and could make his preseason debut on Monday.
Khem Birch will make his pre-season debut tonight vs. Rockets after testing positive for COVID in late September along with members of his family. Said he lost his sense of smell, was fatigued, but is optimistic he can get into game shape quickly. pic.twitter.com/jOYgZniqIX- Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) October 11, 2021
Birch's return marks the team inching closer to full strength as the regular season quickly approaches.
Raptors vs. Rockets injury report
( As of 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 10 )
|Team||Player Name||Current Status||Reason|
|Houston Rockets||Eric Gordon||Doubtful||Injury/Illness - Left Ankle; Soreness|
|Jae'Sean Tate||Probable||Injury/Illness - Back; Tightness|
|Toronto Raptors||Chris Boucher||Out||Injury/Illness - Left Finger; Dislocation - middle|
|Pascal Siakam||Out||Injury/Illness - Left Shoulder; Surgery - rehabilitation|
|Yuta Watanabe||Out||Injury/Illness - Left Calf; Strain|
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