The first game at home after a road trip is often a “trap” game. Teams are thankful to be home with their families, back in their own beds, back at their own practice facilities and their own lockers. They relax — and promptly drop that first game back, even if it’s against a beatable opponent.
But everything is different for the Toronto Raptors. They just wrapped up their four-game West coast trip, but they’re not back home — they’re in Tampa, in hotels and short-term accommodations, with hastily-made facilities that aren’t their own.
And that beatable opponent? The 6-6 Charlotte Hornets are currently well ahead of the 2-8 Raptors in the standings, and feature a dynamic playmaking rookie in LaMelo Ball and a rejuvenated Gordon Hayward. (Hayward’s status for tonight — he’s dealing with a left hip strain — remains uncertain; the last report as of press time has him “doubtful” to play.)
Home or away, the Raptors can’t afford to relax. They’re desperate for the positive play they’ve flashed in the past two games to result in a win. Let’s see if they can get it tonight.
7:05 p.m. Update! Hayward is active for Charlotte, but not starting, so he’s unlikely to play tonight.
Where to Watch:
TSN, 7:30 p.m. EST
Toronto — Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Aron Baynes, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam
Charlotte — Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier, Caleb Martin, P.J. Washington, Bismack Biyombo
Toronto — Patrick McCaw (knee — out); Alex Len (personal — out)
Charlotte — Cody Zeller (hand — out); Gordon Hayward (left hip — doubtful)