The NBA's regular-season doldrums are playing out this week through a batch of largely-inconsequential matchups that can be a drag for both fans and bettors alike.
But tonight, the Toronto Raptors actually have something to play for, needing a win to lock up the No. 5 seed in the East. Their opponents, the Houston Rockets, on the other hand... well... not so much.
Find out if the home favorites can clear a hefty pile of chalk this evening with our Rockets vs. Raptors NBA picks and predictions for Friday, April 8.
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Rockets vs Raptors odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
Toronto opened as a -14.5 to -15.5 favorite across various books, being steadily bet down to -11.5 as of Friday morning. The total opened at 228.5 and now sits at 228 and 227.5.
Rockets vs Raptors predictions
- Prediction: Raptors -11.5 (-110)
- Prediction: Over 227.5 (-110)
- Best bet: Matthews Under 8.5 pts
- Best bet: Sengun Over 2.5 TOs
Predictions made on 4/8/2022 at 9:25 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Rockets vs Raptors game info
• Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
• Date: Friday, April 8, 2022
• Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. ET
• TV: TSN, Sportsnet SW
Rockets vs Raptors betting preview
Rockets: Christian Wood C (Out), Eric Gordon SG (Out), Dennis Schroder PG (Out).
Raptors: Fred VanVleet PG (Out), OG Anunoby SF (Out), Yuta Watanabe SF (Out).
Find our latest NBA injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The raptors are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games as a favorite. Find more NBA betting trends for Rockets vs. Raptors.
Rockets vs Raptors picks and predictions
Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.
Welcome to NBA regular-season garbage time, where half the league stops giving a shit, benches get cleared out, and everyone just yearns for the playoffs — or in some teams' cases their offseason to start.
Such is the case with the Houston Rockets, who currently own the NBA's worst record at 20-60 and have lost five games in a row. The Rockets were one of only a handful of teams that knew they'd be nowhere near the postseason and are simply playing out the motions at this point.
Its veterans are shut down, lottery odds are locked in, and Houston is literally just playing to get its youth reps at this point.
This should mean more experimentation from the Rockets, which highlights the main thing they have going against them in tonight's matchup. They turn the ball over — by far — the most of any team in the NBA, while the Raptors excel at creating turnovers, forcing the NBA's second-most cough-ups.
And they'll be primed to come out swinging at passing lanes and loose handles tonight, needing a win to lock up the East's No. 5 seed, which, at this point, would set them up in a first-round matchup with a 76ers squad that looks way more vulnerable than the Top 3 — and Toronto just beat last night after starting the game in a 17-2 hole.
The Raptors have been suffocating on defense lately, owning the league's best rating over the past 10 games. They're 8-2 straight up and 7-3 against the spread during that span, with five of those wins coming by double-digits.
Meanwhile, the Rockets — even with rookie guard Jalen Green exploding over the past couple of weeks — are limping along with the league's 24th-rated offense in their past 10, and 26th on the season. They just won't have the guns to test a motivated Raptors team that will want to put Chicago away with an easy win here and take the last game of the season off.
There's always the risk of a backdoor cover with a spread this large, but the safer play is definitely to back the team that actually cares about this game, matches up very well, and is peaking at the right time.
Prediction: Raptors -11.5 (-110 at bet365)
The Raptors can win this game on either side of the ball — which makes the total a precarious proposition — especially in regular-season garbage time. Will the Raps try and buckle down on defense and slow the tempo, allowing their guys to rest on a back-to-back, or will they simply try to blow the doors off of the NBA's second-worst defense?
Nick Nurse has never really been one to worry about playing his dudes too much, and there's the implicit truth that Toronto's rotation can all rest Sunday against New York if it wins tonight. So we may not see as much conservation from it here as we might Team X under normal circumstances.
And while Fred VanVleet's absence takes away the Raptors' top halfcourt distributor, we shouldn't see too much decline in their output with a capable playmaking-by-committee approach against a defense as bad as Houston's. And even if the Raps have to be slightly more deliberate in the halfcourt, the Rockets will fork over enough turnovers to create quick transition buckets.
The game flow also runs the risk of becoming fast and loose, particularly if the Raptors put this out of reach early. We could see garbage time in garbage time, which will typically trend towards more lackadaisical defense and back-and-forth action.
Bet this total at your own risk, but we feel like the Over's the more likely outcome if Toronto's able to loosen the brakes on defense at all in this game.
Pick: Over 227.5 (-110 at 888sport)
Jalen Green's offensive outburst over the past couple of weeks has been bad news for one Garrison Matthews. A regular double-digit contributor earlier in the season, Matthews has seen both his minutes and scoring regress violently.
Matthews is averaging just 6.4 points over his past 20 games and has gone over tonight's total of 8.5 just once in his last 10 games and twice in his last 16. Given that kind of consistency, it's not likely he goes off against the team playing the best defense in the NBA right now.
More to that point, the Raptors force turnovers. And Alperen Sengun will look like fresh chum to their hungry pack of ballhawks.
Recently unleashed in the starting lineup with Christian Wood's shutdown (much to the delight of Rockets Twitter), Sengun is no doubt a skilled big and creative passer, but he's still undisciplined and learning the nuances of exploiting an NBA defense.
Sengun racked up six turnovers in just 21 minutes on March 25 against Portland, and since joining the starting lineup, has games of four and five TOs in three outings.
The Raptors have all kinds of athletic 6'9" dudes who are long and quick to swallow up an ambitious passing lane. Sengun should see 30+ minutes tonight and it's likely the Raptors claw him up.
Pick: Garrison Matthews Under 8.5 points (-122)
Pick: Alperen Sengun Over 2.5 turnovers (-110)