It has not been a great year for the Hornets, not that it comes as a surprise. After Kemba Walker bolted to Boston after the underwhelming offers received, they turned their attention to Boston’s guard Terry Rozier.
He has come in and done a nice job, but not nearly good enough to lead his young supporting cast anywhere. This is a team that is playing for the future, all of their young players likely to improve in the coming years. Three-fifths of their starting lineup played in the Rising Stars game.
Toronto, on the other hand, has managed to go 42-16 despite an injury-plagued year. Marc Gasol has been out for over a month along with Norman Powell, but they haven’t missed a beat. Siakam, Powell and Lowry all missed a month earlier in the year, but they just won.
When VanVleet and Serge were missing time, they continued to rack up the wins. The system that Nick Nurse has in place here is arguably the best in the NBA for dealing with shifting circumstances.
Toronto is an overwhelming 13.5-point favorite for this game, the over/under set at 214.5.
Charlotte looking to obtain road-warrior status
Surprisingly, this is the lowest-scoring team in the NBA. No team scores fewer points than Charlotte, but they are #14 in points allowed as their defense has been solid. They do enter this game off a win against the Knicks and are looking to make it a streak.
Devonte Graham has played well in year two despite only shooting 37% from the floor. He’s averaging 18-4-8, while Terry Rozier is averaging 18-5-4. Both of them have played well as first-year starters, Miles Bridges also showing improvement. They will need to figure out their starting center spot, and also which of this year’s guys will remain as starters, and who moves to the bench when they upgrade the roster at some point.
They’ll need Devonte Graham to find his outside touch tonight and go off, to make up for the loss of the recently suspended Malik Monk. Their bench is lacking in playmaking.
Raptors looking for another win
They have been without six of their top seven players for extended stretches thanks to injuries, but nothing seems to be able to make them lose their focus. The bottom of their bench features the likes of Chris Boucher (former G-League Player of the Year), Matt Thomas (sharpshooter) and Oshae Brissett (utility man).
And none of them have brought the level of play down while on the floor, which is telling of how this team is run. And it is far from the most talented in the league. But they work harder than their opponents and always finish with the best shot possible.
They may be without both Gasol and Ibaka tonight, leaving Boucher as the starter. If that’s the case, you already know he’ll be ready.
Raptors win big at home
Charlotte won’t be able to do much to these guys on the road. Canadian guys win.
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