Raptors set to clash with Hornets in matinee matchup

By: Josh Weinstein

Be sure to visit homestand.ca to purchase your tickets for the Hoop Talks Toronto Basketball Summit on March 28. Doug Smith, Sherman Hamilton, Paul Jones, Michael Grange, Eric Koreen, and Ashley Docking will be there. You should be too!

Four games in a row of dominating the opposition have the Toronto Raptors feeling pretty confident ahead of their matinee tilt with the Charlotte Hornets. And why wouldn’t they be? This Raptors bunch have blown out the Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, Celtics, and Knicks in that order. A win would ensure the Raptors another five-game winning streak, the team’s fourth streak of that length or greater.

Toronto Raptors

The Raps bench continues to lead the charge for this team, as it has all season. Dwane Casey continues trotting out a 10-man rotation, which has worked superbly. Relying on youngsters like Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, Jakob Poeltl and alike have provided Toronto the luxury of being able to rest its star players throughout the season. Particularly, Toronto’s backcourt has seen its workload decrease, with Kyle Lowry averaging about five fewer minutes per game in 2017-18 compared to last season. As for DeMar DeRozan, he’s playing an average of one less minute a night.

In part because of their depth and roster flexibility, the Raptors own the league’s second-best net rating since the turn of the New Year at 7.7. Oh, and it’s worth mentioning Toronto sits atop the Eastern Conference standings entering play today.

Charlotte Hornets

Freshly-minted all-star replacement Kemba Walker has led the charge offensively for the entire season in Charlotte, leading the team with averages of 22.9 points and 5.8 assists per game. Unfortunately for Walker, the rest of the team outside of Dwight Howard hasn’t been consistent enough, and as a result, the team hasn’t made much noise in the standings this season. Charlotte currently owns the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference and sit six games back of eighth-seeded Philadelphia. The possibility of a postseason berth remains bleak. Only an extended run of success from the Hornets (or an unlikely slide by Philadelphia, Indiana, or Miami) can salvage their season.

Watchability Ranking – 7/10

In two previous games (both wins) against Charlotte this season, Toronto has averaged a whopping 127.5 points per game. When the Raps and Hornets square off against each other, the games tend to lean towards the high scoring side. The more high-scoring a game is, the more entertaining I’d say the product is for the common fan.

Also, considering where Charlotte sits in the standings, you’d think going forward into the all-star break and beyond this team will be playing with a greater sense of urgency. Each game is crucial for the Hornets, especially if they still consider themselves playoff hopefuls.

Tip-off is set for 1:00 PM ET. Here are the projected starting lineups:

Josh Weinstein
joshweinstein21@gmail.com

Writer and podcaster for Homestand Sports and Raptors Republic. Josh has previously worked for Postmedia, covering a wide range of sports.