Hornets Closing Back-to-Back on the Road Against Raptors

by Sam Perley
  • Charlotte Hornets (6-6) at Toronto Raptors (2-8)
  • Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 at 7:30 PM EST (Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL)
  • Fox Sports Southeast, FOX Sports GO App and WFNZ 610 AM or 102.5 FM
  • Last time out: Hornets won, 99-96 on Feb. 28, 2020 in Toronto

Offense Goes Cold in Winning-Streak-Snapping Loss to Dallas

Looking to notch its first five-game winning streak in almost three calendar years, Charlotte’s offense couldn’t get much of anything going in Wednesday night’s 104-93 home loss to the short-handed Dallas Mavericks. The Hornets shot a mere 38% from the field, scored just 11 points off 10 Mavericks turnovers and struggled most of the night to convert in half-court sets against a lengthy Dallas team. With Gordon Hayward’s status for tonight’s game (left hip strain) still unclear, Charlotte might need to get more scoring production from the rest of the rotation.

Don’t Be Fooled by Toronto’s 2-8 Record

The Raptors are off to a rocky start this season, although have played just three home games (1-2) and both of their last two outings ended with one-point losses. Toronto’s -1.4 net rating isn’t necessarily indicative of its talent level, with much of the 2019 NBA Championship core still in place on the roster. Oddly enough, the Raptors are a top-6 team in terms of net rating in both the first and fourth quarters, but bottom-5 in each of the middle two frames. A strong start and finish sandwiched around sustained, balanced play will be key for the Hornets in tonight’s contest.

Expect the Battle in the Paint to Be Pivotal

Led by the emergence of the NBA’s third-leading shot-blocker in Chris Boucher, Toronto is currently allowing the third-fewest paint points per game (39.8) of any team in the league, while Charlotte is averaging the 18th-most scored in this area (44.7). While the Raptors have been adept at blocking shots this season, they haven’t been nearly as successful at grabbing defensive rebounds (24th in the league in percentage) or preventing second-chance points (14.5 surrendered per game is fourth-most). Converting in the paint won’t be easy for the Hornets, but potential seeing some extended possessions could be in the cards on the offensive end.

Preview Quote

“We’re super motivated. The first quarter [against Dallas] was terrible for us. We need to start better and not just let guys shoot open threes and we can’t let them get offensive rebounds. We have to start games better and that’ll lead us on to victory. So, we just have to come out tomorrow night and start the game better.” – PJ Washington

Final Thoughts

Yesterday’s loss to a Dallas team missing five rotational players proved just how night-to-night the NBA can be sometimes, particularly this season. Fortunately for the Hornets, they have another chance to get back in the win column starting tonight, though they’ll need a much better first-quarter start than they had against Dallas plus more shots to fall their way as well.

Additional Notes

G Patrick McCaw (left knee surgery rehabilitation) is out for Toronto… The Raptors are playing their home games in Tampa, FL right now because the U.S-Canada border is currently closed for almost all non-essential travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic… Both sides are 3-3 against each other since the start of the 2018-19 season… These two teams will meet again on Saturday, Jan. 16 at Amalie Arena.

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