Where: Scotiabank Arena; Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When: 7:30 p.m. EDT.
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
On Friday, the Charlotte Hornets got a 120-88 victory over the Orlando Magic. Then, on the second night of a back to back, Kemba Walker hit the game winning free throw in a 113-112 win against Miami Heat. Despite almost losing a 26 point lead in that game, Charlotte has won two of it’s first three games of the season. On Monday night, the Hornets travel to Toronto to face another team with a new look: the Nick Nurse-led Raptors.
The Raptors made one of the biggest moves of the summer when they traded all-star DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl to the San Antonio Spurs for two time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. It was risky and bold to pull off a move for someone who basically didn’t play at all last season and reportedly has his sights set on Los Angeles next summer. In the end, for a player of Leonard’s caliber it is worth the chance to convince him over the course of the season to stay in Toronto.
As for the rest of the team, there are still a lot of familiar faces. Kyle Lowry continues to be the teams starting point guard. Along with him, Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas are the mainstays in the frontcourt for a team looking to make it out of the Eastern Conference. The team has won it’s first three games of the season and it is looking to improve to 4-0 on the young campaign.
The Hornets have had some up and down moments early in the season, but outside of the stellar play of Kemba Walker, many players have contributed to the team. Malik Monk has been impressive through the first three games. In addition to him, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is embracing his bench role very well. He had seven blocked shots in the victory over the Heat.
For the Hornets to continue their winning streak, the team will have to be better on the boards. Valanciunas and Ibaka play with high energy and can create a lot of extra possession for the Raptors. This will be a tough test for Cody Zeller, Marvin Williams and the other bigs for the Hornets. They had a tough time dealing with Giannis Antetokounmpo on opening night.
Toronto is a tough place to play and this Raptors team plays with a high motor. James Borrego’s team must be ready to compete early because if the Raptors start hot, it’ll be tough playing catch up. We will see if the Hornets can extended their winning streak against the Raptors in Toronto.