On the road again... The Toronto Raptors have escaped the cold and cloudy Canadian weather for a warmer Charlotte, North Carolina today as they face the Charlotte Hornets tonight. The second of two added games into the schedule as part of the In-Season Tournament run, the Raptors were given games against Miami and Charlotte after they were knocked out of NBA Cup contention.
Wednesday’s Miami game did not go as planned, with the Raptors sliding against a Heat team even with two of their starters out with injury. A 30-piece Pascal Siakam performance, 28 points added by O.G. Anunoby, AND 15 off the bench from Gary Trent Jr. was still not enough to old off Caleb Martin, Jimmy Butler, and Greatest Raptor of All Time Kyle Lowry. The Heat won 112-103 and the Raptors fell to 9-12 on the season — they now sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference.
The Charlotte Hornets are one of a small group of teams in the NBA doing worse in the standings than the Raptors. They sit in 13th place in the Eastern conference with a record of 6-13 on their season. Both teams are trying to avoid their third consecutive loss with this game, and based on the Raptors rollercoaster, up and down performances against teams, it’s hard to say which way this one will go. A team that can beat Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns but still lose against lower ranked teams like the Knicks or Orlando — that’s been the story of the Raptors this season.
Yet, the odds are working in their favour tonight, because as young and inexperienced this Raptors may be in a lot of ways, the Charlotte Hornets are only younger and more inexperienced.
TV Info: 7:00pm ET, Sportsnet
Toronto: Dennis Schroder, Scottie Barnes, O.G. Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl
Charlotte: Brandon Miller, Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges, Nick Richards, Terry Rozier
Toronto: Christian Koloko (OUT - Respiratory), Gradey Dick (OUT- G-League Assignment)
Charlotte: LaMelo Ball (OUT- ankle)
LaMelo Ball Out
Hornets star LaMelo Ball has been struggling with an ankle injury and it looks like he will miss tonight’s game. The Hornets guard is averaging 24.7 points on the season and would be a great boost for the team, so his absence may make this game interesting for the Toronto Raptors.
Gordon Hayward is averaging 14.7 points per game for the Hornets, so they will have to rely on him more while they wait for Ball to return.
Raptors Starting Lineup Questions
After Wednesday’s loss to the Hornets, there were questions about whether or not Darko Rajakovic should change up his starting lineup. Dennis Schroder scored 4-17 while Gary Trent Jr contributed 15 points off the bench in that game. Many are debating how effective it may be to put Trent Jr into the starting lineup instead.
We all know Trent Jr loves to hear his name called out in the starting lineup. He’s proven to perform well as a starter and has been relegated to the bench just merely due to there not being room in the starting lineup for him. Yet, with Dennis Schroder having a rougher week, maybe it’s worth a shot throwing Trent Jr up there instead.
Trent Jr may lack a bit of consistency, but when he’s hot, he can go off offensively. The Raptors are lacking true shooters, and Trent Jr may provide a spark to the starting lineup that they are currently lacking. Personally, I think it’s worth a shot.
If you made it this far into a basketball preview on the day the Toronto Blue Jays may sign the LeBron James of baseball, congrats. May the Shohei Ohtani odds be in our favour!