Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Houston Rockets
Records: Raptors (36-14); Rockets (27-20)
Where to Watch
Date: Friday, Jan. 25
Time: 8:00 p.m.
TV: TSN Network
Radio: SN 590
Location: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Saying that James Harden is on a roll right now would be an understatement.
Since Houston's loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 8, Harden has taken his game to a historic level with averages of 42.5 points, 8.2 assists, 7.6 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. Not only has he scored 30-plus points in 21 consecutive games, the reigning MVP has four 50-point games games during that stretch, including a career-high 61 points in his most recent outing.
Harden is averaging 45.3 points per game in the 11 games he's played in January alone. With only three games remaining for the Rockets this month, Harden will likely join Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant and Elgin Baylor as the only players in NBA history to average 40 points per game over an entire month (minimum 10 games played).
The Rockets have been a better team for it. Following a rough start to the season, they now have the fifth-best record in the Western Conference, with only a couple of games seperating them from the Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder in the standings.
Time will tell if the Raptors have better luck slowing Harden down than the other teams that have crossed his path lately, though having a two-time Defensive Player of the Year will certainly help, as Kawhi Leonard is expected to return to the lineup following a four-game absence.
MORE: What Leonard's missed time means for his awards candidacy
O.G. Anunoby is also expected to return for the Raptors after missing five straight games due to personal reasons.
This will mark the 20th time Leonard and Harden have played against each other in the regular season. Harden has the edge on Leonard statistically, but Leonard has won 11 of their 19 regular season matchups.
Harden, however, has won six of the 11 games they've gone head-to-head in the postseason.
They both enter the game on streaks. For Harden, Wilt Chamberlain is the only player in NBA history to have gone on a longer streak of 30-point games. For Leonard, he's scored 20-plus points in 20 consecutive games, tying him with DeMar DeRozan for the second-longest streak in franchise history.
Leonard now trails only Vince Carter, who scored 20 points in 23 consecutive games on two seperate occasions.
Chris Paul has been upgraded to questionable for Friday's game. The nine-time All-Star has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since Dec. 22.
Paul was averaging 15.6 points, 8.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game prior to his injury.
As incredible as Harden has been lately, he'll probably appreciate some reinforcements.
Last Time They Played
Date: March 9, 2018
Score: Raptors 108, Rockets 105
Raptors: Kyle Lowry - 30 points, 6 rebounds, 3 rebounds, 1 steal
Rockets: James Harden - 40 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 block