If you happened to watch the Raptors’ previous game against the Charlotte Hornets, then you know that they are not a team that has the capability to beat the Toronto Raptors. What this Hornets team does represent, is the potential for the Raptors to beat themselves. Long gone are the days when Toronto would consistently play down to their opponent, but the ability to do just that does not escape any team in the NBA on a single night. The Maledon’s, McGowens’ and Thor’s should be taken as serious as a Garland, Mitchell and Mobley trio in order for the Raptors to block out the noise of their inferior opponent.
With that mental image in place, what else does tonight’s game boil down to for Toronto? While there are a couple of factors to consider around coaching, preparedness and, well, putting the ball in the hoop, ultimately, tonight’s contest will boil down to how badly the Raptors want that 8th seed. Unfortunately, they don’t control their own destiny — thanks to Atlanta owning the tie-breaker — but this Hornets game will let Toronto know exactly which direction they’re heading. Lose this one, and, it’s likely lights out on a seed higher than 9th thanks in large part to the Raptors possessing the toughest remaining schedule in the NBA. Win tonight and, yes, the road will still be treacherous, but the possibility remains that Toronto can secure the coveted 8th seed that would allow them an extra shot at cracking the playoffs. They’ll just have to fight through the Celtics twice and the Bucks to close out the year. Anything is possible!
Where to Watch:
TSN, 7:00pm EST
Toronto – Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, O.G. Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl
Charlotte – Theo Maledon, Svi Mykhailiuk, Bryce McGowens, JT Thor, Mark Williams
Toronto – Otto Porter Jr. (foot – out), Gary Trent Jr. (back – doubtful)
Charlotte – LaMelo Ball (ankle – out), Gordon Hayward (thumb – out), Cody Martin (knee – out), Kelly Oubre Jr. (shoulder – out), Terry Rozier (foot – out), Dennis Smith Jr. (toe – questionable), P.J. Washington (foot – out), Mark Williams (ankle – doubtful)