Let the good, bad and unknown times roll! In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Toronto Raptors are currently mired in an uninspired stretch that has exposed the fundamental cracks of an experimentally put together roster. When Toronto plays hard and communicates on the defensive end and they hit their shots from deep and they get out in transition and they control the glass, they’re as close to a lock for a win as you can get. An astute reader would notice that there are a lot of “and’s” in that previous sentence and that’s how the team you support ends up with a middling record at the mid-point of the season.
Is the middle the best place to be in the NBA? Absolutely not! As a matter of fact, it is absolutely the worst place to be! Not good enough to win, not bad enough to bottom-out and acquire top-tier talent through the draft. What are the Raptors to do? Well, as it stands, they haven’t made any sell-off moves as yet, so the only thing they can do is as many of the “and’s” in the above-paragraph in every game they play moving forward.
What better place to start than with the lowly Charlotte Hornets, who Toronto just finished shooting the lights out against? While Charlotte did manage to put up an unforgivable 120 points against the Raptors two nights ago, they are currently the second worst team in the NBA thanks to injury and poor roster construction. All Star point guard LaMelo Ball has only played in 18 of 42 games while Gordon Hayward continues to be a wisp of an NBA player; appearing when least expected and then expectedly disappearing. All of this to say that the Raptors should absolutely be beating this Hornets team tonight.
The million dollar question remains: will they, though? Can Fred VanVleet break his streak of 10-games shooting under .500? Can Toronto continue to push towards positive regression from the 3-point line? One thing is for sure, Toronto must continue to punish Charlotte on the glass. In their previous game — a game where Charlotte had a better Effective Field Goal Percentage than Toronto — the Raptors had an Offensive Rebound Percentage of 39.1 % compared to Charlotte’s 16.2 %. If it weren’t for their tenacity on the offensive glass, Raptors fans would certainly have been looking at the potential start of another negative streak. Get those boards!
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet, 7:30 PM ET
Toronto Raptors – Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam
Charlotte Hornets – LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Jalen McDaniels, P.J. Washington, Mason Plumlee
Toronto Raptors – Otto Porter Jr. (out – foot)
Charlotte Hornets – Gordon Hayward (doubtful – hamstring), Kelly Oubre Jr. (out – hand)