Where: Air Canada Centre. Toronto, ON.
When: 7:30 P.M. ET
TV/RADIO: Fox Sports Southeast/WFNZ 610 AM
The last game between the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Hornets was fun to say the least. DeMar DeRozan nailed a 30-foot game winner that was called off, Jeremy Lin put up a season-high 35 points, and Bismack Biyombo put up a near triple-double on his former team. For me, that game was one of my favorite games of the season. Will this go around be as exciting? We can only hope.
This version of the Raptors is a full-strength version the Hornets didn't face last time. Starters Jonas Valancunias and DeMarre Carroll are both back from injury, and while they've both struggled since returning they're still two really formidable players. Carroll's a fiesty defender who can shoot from range and can rebound well at his position. His numbers are a bit down this season due to injury, but once he's at full health Carroll can be a real hassle to deal with. We'll see if he has a better outing than he did against the Wizards where he shot just 2-for-10 from the field. Valancunias brings some post offense to the center position that Bismack Biyombo simply doesn't bring. Though Bismack figures to play a lot of minutes with Valancunias still finding his footing after a lengthy absence. Either player will be a difficult matchup for Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky. Guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan continue their stellar play, and both look like locks for the All-Star team. Toronto will now have Bismack Biyombo and Terrance Ross coming off the bench joined by stretch four Patrick Patterson and guard Cory Joseph. This bench could really cause problems for a potentially depleted Hornet's team.
This will be the second game for the Hornets in light of Al Jefferson's surgery. Jeremy Lin, Spencer Hawes, and Nicolas Batum are all questionable to play against the Raptors. Though Batum admirably played through the pain against the Clippers and had a solid game in the losing effort. If all three are out then the Hornets are down two key contributors and a solid role player in Hawes. Could the Hornets shoot the lights out and win this game? Absolutely. Could the lack of many key players lead to an absolute stinker of a game? Yes. This game could either way. Lin, Hawes, and Batum could all three and all would be normal. Either way the Hornets have to dig deep and rebound from the sloppy play against the Clippers and Lakers.
These next few games in 2016 will be crucial for the Hornets. Will they rise to the occasion or all fall back into mediocrity? Tonight we'll see what direction they head in.