It's unclear what the best description for the Eastern Conference playoff race is (perhaps someone in this game thread can figure it out), but the Raptors and Hornets are stuck in the middle, currently occupying the 5th and 6th spot respectively, in a conference where the 2nd and 11th seed are separated by 4.5 games.
Even stranger, four teams who made the playoffs last season are currently on the outside looking in (Atlanta, Boston, Washington and Milwaukee). Again, it's mid-December so these standings are going to change pretty dramatically, so there's two ways to look at things: everyone is very much in it, or, there's a great chance here for several teams to break away from the pack and create some separation.
The Raptors would definitely like to be in the conversation for the latter, after putting themselves in position to start this three game road trip with a victory in Indiana, they let the game get away from them and head to Charlotte tonight, a place where they never seem to have much success.
The Hornets are a good team this season, better than many expected, and should provide another challenge for this Toronto team. Another way to look at the standings: the Raptors are just 1.5 games behind the first place Cavs, so a road win tonight would get them moving closer to the top of the standings than the line that separates playoff and lottery teams.
Here's our preview from Stephen Campbell.
PS. Bismack Biyombo revenge game (?)