Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

Thursday's Best Bet

Houston at Toronto (7:35 p.m. ET)

Best Bet: Under (230)

It's the usual light Thursday card in the NBA this evening, as there are only four games on the board. No typical TNT double header either, as I'm sure all this recent talk about rating being down will have a bit more fuel poured on it because of Thursday's slate. But amid the four-game slate that has half of the teams on the floor entering with losing records, we get a marquee showdown between Houston and Toronto.

The Rockets are hoping the big off-season trade they made ends up with the same result the Toronto Raptors got a season ago after their big summer swap. With both sides coming off tough OT losses on Tuesday, you've got to wonder how much is left in some of the legs out there for this game, as both teams would love to rebound in a big way against a quality foe.

So who get's it done?

Houston's OT loss on Tuesday got much more recognition because of the “missed dunk” by James Harden earlier in the 4th quarter of that game, a blatantly bad error in what has seemingly become a long line of them for officials here in 2019. Human error is always going to be a part of sports as they are currently constructed, but how you don't have someone in some video room somewhere stopping play after that and awarding the bucket is beyond me. Who knows, maybe the officials knew the ratings were down and figured nobody was watching anyways and they could get away with it.

The Rockets weren't the only team frustrated by an outcome on Tuesday though, as Toronto basically no-showed in OT against Miami to suffer their first home loss of the year. It was the first game in a long time that they had Kyle Lowry back on the floor, and while he's not to blame for the outcome, his 2-for-18 shooting night didn't help, and sometimes all it takes to kill a team's momentum when they are rolling is a chemistry shuffle with a guy popping back into, or taken out of what had been a consistent rotation. Toronto will be fine long term as they'll figure it out rather quickly, and Raptors fans are hoping that comes to fruition tonight.

However, with both teams coming off OT losses and having just a day off before this showcase, a total like 230 is far too high.

The first part of that idea is the potential fatigue you may have out there from guys, as tired legs shows up in shooting numbers before anything. The Harden/Westbrook duo was an abysmal 18-for-68 from the field in that loss on Tuesday, as Houston may be experiencing a bit of the dog days of winter already. Put them up against a much tougher defense in Toronto's and things may not get much better for Houston tonight.

Toronto's in a similar position and even with Lowry back in the fold, the young core of guys like Siakam, VanVleet, Powell etc may be feeling their own early December fatigue. This is the first time in their careers they've really been counted on to be playing the minutes they have been this year and 20 games into the year you eventually need a bit more time to recover. And expecting them to run up and down the floor after a tough OT game to do their share of passing a 230 total is not ideal.

Secondly, the fact that it is two good teams squaring off does lend itself to seeing some defense being played. Neither side wants to get blown out in a game like this, and if shots aren't falling, the way you control that is by tightening things up on defense. And in a year where there are many more “have nots” than “haves” in this league – probably another reason the ratings are down – when two of the “haves” square off, you expect to see a playoff caliber style of game. That's not to say we will get one here, but again, added on top of the whole picture, and slapped with a total of 230, the number really starts to appear high.

Given that Toronto has only had one non-OT game this year against a current winning team finish with more then 220 points in seven tries, that's probably where this game tops out as long as they only play 48 minutes.

And heck, given how Houston's last game went, we can always hope for the refs to miss blatant buckets to help keep this one low too right?

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