When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Charlotte Hornets are the best bad NBA team that has ever existed. After two-straight comeback wins on the road, they put up a stinker at home against Indiana. Tonight, they have a good chance to get back on track with the Raptors coming into to town on the second night of a back-to-back after losing to Portland in the final seconds on a Carmelo Anthony go-ahead jumper. We are in the year 2012.
The Toronto Raptors are a good team. They have the NBA’s second-ranked defense (103.7 DRTG), they shoot 36.8% from beyond the arc (6th), and they sit quietly in fourth-place in the East, with all of the media attention being drawn to the teams around them like Philadelphia, Miami, and Boston.
With that being said, here’s what they’re dealing with in terms of injuries right now; one of their first-quarter lineups last night consisted of three players who were in the G-League the night before (Oshae Brissett, Stanley Johnson, and Matt Thomas), and the other two were Chris Boucher and Patrick McCaw. A truly star-studded lineup.
Their starting lineup of Kyle Lowry-Pat McCaw-OG Anunoby-Rondae Hollis-Jefferson-Serge Ibaka is a far cry from the starting five that brought the Larry O-B to Canada, but that’s life. Fred VanVleet (hamstring), Norman Powell (shoulder), Pascal Siakam (groin), and Marc Gasol (hamstring) will all be out for tonight’s game against the Hornets.
The only name on the Hornets’ injury report is Marvin Williams (nose), who is doubtful for tonight’s game. It should be another night where we get big minutes from either Cody Martin or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist due to Marv’s absence.
The Hornets got absolutely shellacked by the Raptors in their first meeting on Nov. 18, losing 132-96. The game was over before it even began. Toronto shot 46.5% from the three-point line in that game, out-rebounded the Hornets 53-37, and had 10 turnovers compared to Charlotte’s 19. Granted, they were fully-healthy back in November, so the result will hopefully not be a 36-point loss this go-round.
Over the last 10 games, Devonte’ Graham is shooting 33.3% from beyond the arc, while Terry Rozier continues to be one of the NBA’s elite catch-and-shoot players this season. This is harder than it sounds because defenses put most of their attention on Devonte’, but Borrego should try and find more off-ball looks for him. It’s hard to get in a rhythm shooting so many long-distance pull-ups. Getting him clean looks will not only boost his three-point percentage, but it could also help open driving lanes for him. Getting into the paint (and to the free-throw line) should be another focus for him in order to get back to the scoring tear he was on after being inserted into the starting lineup. Defenses have clearly figured him out, and while he’s pivoted to more of a playmaker (10 assists and 2.7 turnovers per game over the last seven), the Hornets’ offense needs him to revert back to his old ways. Terry can’t do it alone, and relying on Cody Zeller to provide a scoring punch off the bench is not ideal.
With all of that being said, it’ll be hard to put it into plan against Nick Nurse. He has the G-League Raptors running like a well-oiled machine. This has the potential to turn into a very fun game with lots of three-pointers being shot. And we all love threes, right?
P.S. the Hornets brought J. Cole to the Hive against the Pacers. He was not good luck. When will they have DaBaby sit court-side at a game? He’s too nice and happy to be bad luck.