The Toronto Raptors play the Charlotte Hornets again tonight, after defeating them 128-108 on Sunday afternoon. With that win, the Raptors clinched a spot in the play-in tournament, and will now use their remaining four games to try and secure the 8th seed — an important spot to secure, as finishing 7th or 8th guarantees two chances to make the playoffs.
But it won’t be easy. For one thing, the Raptors are currently tied with the Atlanta Hawks for that 8th seed, with the Hawks owning the tie breaker. And after tonight, the Raptors visit the Boston Celtics for two games before returning home to face the Milwaukee Bucks for the season finale. They’re only the two best teams in the East!
That means tonight’s game, with the already not-good Hornets resting half their roster, is the easiest on the schedule. But that in turn means the Raptors might look past their opponent at upcoming games, and with their eyes off the prize in front of them, they could easily lose to a team of try-hards looking to secure future NBA employment.
Let’s hope the Raptors are more serious than that!
Where to Watch:
TSN, 7:00pm EST
Toronto – Scottie Barnes, Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl
Charlotte – Theo Maledon, Svi Mykhailiuk, Bryce McGowens, JT Thor, Mark Williams
Toronto – Gary Trent Jr. (elbow – questionable), O.G. Anunoby (ankle – questionable), Will Barton (ankle – probable), Otto Porter Jr. (foot – out for season)
Charlotte – Terry Rozier (foot – out), Cody Martin (knee – out), Gordon Hayward (thumb – out), Kelly Oubre (shoulder – out), Dennis Smith Jr. (toe - questionable), P.J. Washington (ankle -– out), LaMelo Ball (ankle – out for season), Mark Williams (ankle – probable)
Siakam has the buzz
Pascal Siakam bounced back from an awful 5-for-15 shooting night against the Philadelphia 76ers to score 35 points on 16-for-24 shooting against the Hornets on Sunday. I think it’s safe to say Pascal likes playing Charlotte; he’s averaging 33 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, on 70% shooting, in three games against the Hornets this season.
Siakam’s up-and-down second half of the season, plus the Raptors’ mediocre record, has put what seemed like a sure All-NBA selection in jeopardy. But he’s still averaging 24.3/7.8/6 on the year; if the Raptors can finish above .500 I suspect that’ll help secure what I still believe to be a deserving All-NBA spot.
VanVleet on top
Pretty neat to see Fred VanVleet hold both the Raptors’s single-game scoring and assists records, isn’t it? VanVleet is truly a home-grown player, undrafted, came up through the G-League, won a title there, earned his minutes with the big club, won a title, earned an All-Star selection... and is now a franchise record holder.
In a way it’s crazy not to see Vince Carter, DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry hold those records. But VanVleet’s scrappy underdog story seems to fit the Raptors pretty well!
Now the question is, what other single-game records can VanVleet acquire? Rebounds seems like (ahem) a tall order, as VanVleet’s career-high of 12 is less than half of Bismarck Biyombo’s record 25. But I can see VanVleet (sorry) stealing Doug Christie’s steal record, of 9, set way back in 1997; VanVleet’s career high is 7. (I bet if the NBA counted some of FVV’s swipedowns as steals instead of blocks, as they inexplicably often do, he might already have this record).
Three-pointers in a game is the other one that seems like it may end up in VanVleet’s hands. He’s already second on the list — he had 11 threes in his record-setting scoring night, and Donyell Marshall’s record is 12.
Former Raptor Svi Mykhailiuk dropped a career-high 26 points on Sunday, including a a career-high-tying 5 three-pointers. I guess it was a revenge game, although I do find it amusing when end-of-bench players who barely spent any time with a franchise declare vengeance on said former franchise.
In any event, Mykhailiuk appears to be the most dangerous Hornet currently in uniform, and the Raptors can make it easier on themselves if they lock him down tonight. Could Mykhailiuk command the ultimate respect: the O.G. Anunoby defensive treatment?
That will depend on whether or not Anunoby, who rolled his ankle Sunday, can play. He’s currently questionable, and it’s been described as a mild sprain, so fingers crossed O.G. is good to go — and can slow down the Svi Machine!