3 in the Key: Gameday preview vs. Rockets

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors head to Houston as they attempt to build on their big win against Utah when they go up against Dwight Howard, James Harden and the Rockets.


The home team has won the last 12 times that these teams have played each other. Here are three things Toronto has to keep in mind if they plan on breaking that streak in H-town.

1) Run: I was watching the Rockets play the Clippers the other night and something stuck out to me. Yes, Harden and Howard are adept and running the pick and roll and yes, Houston has a glut of shooters who are just waiting to hit the open looks that come from the inevitable Howard double team. The Clippers, however, understood this and challenged the Rockets to play their game at a much faster pace. The Rockets struggled to keep up and all of a sudden, they were late on their close outs, taking horrible jump shots and abandoning Howard in the post. I’m not suggesting that the Raptors are anywhere near the Clippers as a basketball team or that they’re necessarily a ‘running’ team. But, the players on this team are capable of getting up and down the court. It might be just the Plan B that this team needs.

2) Attack Harden: Harden played on Saturday but he was still hurting from his foot injury. His jump shot was off and J.J. Redick had a field day against him. DeMar DeRozan should be looking to have similar success as Harden’s effectiveness isn’t at its peak. Harden isn't going to be winning Defensive Player of the Year anytime soon so it'd be great to see DeRozan and Rudy Gay force him into a few mistakes defensively.

3) Battle of the boards: Omer Asik and Dwight Howard are elite rebounders and the ‘Twin Towers’  have the potential to cause Toronto havoc down low. Jonas Valanciunas will have his hands full with Howard and it won’t be surprising if we see a bit more Aaron Gray action. Valanciunas and Amir Johnson will have to subdue their opposite numbers and the rebounding battle should go a long way in determining the outcome of this game.

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