The Toronto Raptors are down to key starters in Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll, but that certainly hasn't stopped them from winning. Since almost beating the juggernaut Golden State Warriors in a heartbreaker, the Raptors have won four of the last five including a victory over the San Antonio Spurs. DeMar Derozan was just named the Eastern Conference player of the week, and Kyle Lowry looks like he's well on the way to being an All-Star, and perhaps DeMar DeRozan could join him. Luis Scola is having a solid year at age 35 and has a new found three point shot that can stretch the defense to allow for more DeRozan and Lowry drives. Former Hornet (legend) Bismack Biyombo is also having an excellent year and continues to be a top rim protector. He's doing an admirable job holding down Valanciunas' place in the middle.
The Raptors hover around the same offensive rating as last year and the team has gotten more creative with its sets this season. On the defensive end the change is much bigger. The Raptors have jumped 14 spots in defensive rating from last year to this year. That's an incredible improvement. The team brought in defensive minded players like DeMarre Carroll, Bismack Biyombo, and Cory Joseph and it's certainly paying off.
The Hornets may be missing a key starter of their own in Nicolas Batum; who left last nights Orlando Magic game with an illness. If Batum is indeed out again his load will probably fall on Marvin Williams, PJ Hairston, and Jeremy Lamb. It'll be interesting to see if they're up for the challenge. In the NBA teams will have a bad night and last night was one of them for the Hornets. Charlotte needs to establish a rhythm early and fight the shots they been hitting all season. Kemba Walker in particular needs to rebound after some awful shot selection in the Magic game.
Most importantly about tonight is Bismack Biyombo returns to Charlotte for the first time since he signed with the Raptors and he will start. That's really all that matters.