Records: Raptors (2-8), Hornets (6-6)
Where to Watch
Date: Thursday, Jan. 14
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: TSN (Canada), Fox Sports Southeast and NBA League Pass (USA)
Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
We’ve talked about the positives. The team has talked about them, but it’s time for the Toronto Raptors to turn those positives into wins.
Yes, Pascal Siakam is back to his All-Star self. Fred VanVleet is also playing at an All-Star level. Chris Boucher is off to a career-best start. OG Anunoby found his 3-point stroke on the road trip and Norman Powell is getting his mojo back but the reality is the team is still 2-8. Toronto starts a five-game “homestand” which could either get them back on track or see the season fall apart in a hurry.
How can they do that? It should start with defence. The Raptors have been unrecognizable defensively to those who have followed this team over the last few seasons. After finishing with a top-five defensive rating in each of the last two seasons, Toronto currently ranks 21st in the league giving up 111.1 points per 100 possessions. On the four-game road trip that number ballooned to 117.8 points per 100 possessions. No matter how many positives were taken from the road trip, if the Raptors can’t get back to their brand of defence they’ll be looking towards the lottery for the first time in a long time.
The Hornets on the other hand have plenty to be optimistic about with the way they’ve started the season. At 6-6, the team has had enough good moments to make you believe they might just break their four-year playoff drought.
Big money signing Gordon Hayward has been as good as advertised for the Hornets giving them a true number one option – one they needed since the departure of Kemba Walker. Rookie LaMelo Ball has energized the franchise and so far lived up to the hype placed on him coming into the league. Ball is averaging 11.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 25.3 minutes per game as a reserve for Charlotte. Many Hornets fans are calling on head coach James Borrego to make the move to put Ball in the starting lineup and let him continue to shine.
The biggest change for Charlotte so far this year? They’ve been good defensively. The Hornets currently have the sixth-best defensive rating in the NBA at 107.0. Last season they finished 25th overall in that same category.
- Patrick McCaw (Left Knee Surgery rehabilitation) – Out
- Cody Zeller (fractured left hand) – Out
- Gordon Hayward (hip) – Day-to-day
Raptors vs. Hornets Predictions
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): This is a game the Raptors should get and I think they will. The Hornets played last night and have to deal with travelling to Tampa after a loss. Gordon Hayward got hurt in that game and may not play on Thursday. That’s a lot of offence for Charlotte to lose if that does happen. Raps match up well with this team and get this one if their shots continue to fall the way they were on the four-game roadie.
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I’m with Carlan here, I like the Raptors to get this one, too. After falling one shot short in consecutive road losses, the ball is bound to start bouncing in Toronto’s favour. What better opportunity to right the ship than facing a team on the second night of a back-to-back, potentially without their leading scorer in Hayward? If Hayward is out, the Hornets could get some added motivation and juice if LaMelo Ball makes the first start of his career, but with the way things are trending in the right direction with the Raptors key players, I think they’ll catch a break tonight and pick up their third W of the season.
Raptors vs. Hornets: Betting odds, spread, over/under
Spread: Raptors -9.0 (-110), Hornets +9.0 (-110)
Raptors Moneyline: -400
Hornets Moneyline: +320
Over/Under: 219.5 (-110)
*Odds courtesy of William Hill Sports Book
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