Hornets Host Raptors in Long-Awaited Return to Action

by Sam Perley
  • Charlotte Hornets vs. Toronto Raptors
  • Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7 PM EST
  • Spectrum Center, Fox Sports Southeast and WFNZ 610 AM

Hornets Hit the Court After 9-Month Layoff

Saturday night marks 276 days since the Hornets walked off the floor at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami back on March 11. Having not been invited to the NBA restart in Orlando, it’s been over nine months since the team played a league-sanctioned game. Preseason play can be messy sometimes and this year will absolutely be no exception, but regardless of the aesthetics, Hornets basketball is indeed back in Buzz City.

Charlotte Gets Early Test from Tough Toronto Defense

The Raptors finished second in the league in defensive efficiency (104.7) last season and aside from swapping out Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol for Aron Baynes and Alex Len in the frontcourt, they return largely the same roster. Toronto also allowed the second-lowest opponent field-goal percentage in the restricted area (59.3%) and while the Hornets struggled to convert in this particular zone last year, they have a great opportunity to start addressing a weakness tonight.

Limiting the Raptors’ Transition Opportunities

Young NBA teams naturally turn the ball over and last year, the Hornets were no exception after finishing 24th in turnover percentage (15.0%). While the squad might be even younger this season age-wise, it is more experienced and hopefully that increased continuity and familiarity will prevail against a Toronto team that ranked first in fast-break scoring (18.8) and second in points scored off takeaways (19.5) last season.

Game Preview Quote

“We’re going to do what we do, be who we are, learn from it and grow from there. Nothing changes for me this preseason. It’s about evaluation. Right now, it’s about getting the top-10, top-12 [players] ready for Opening Night. My focus is making sure those guys get enough run, but not too much run. Just getting more comfortable with each other.” – Coach Borrego

Final Thoughts

There is still a long way to go before the regular season begins on Dec. 23 (although maybe not that long), but if the Hornets look organized and are communicating for the majority of the 48 minutes tonight, that would largely be a positive sign, regardless of what the final scoreboard says.

Additional Notes: Toronto has been off since Sept. 11 after falling in seven games to Boston in their Eastern Conference Semifinals series… This will be the third time the Hornets and Raptors have faced each other in the preseason and first time since Oct. 25, 2000 (both teams are 1-1 in the all-time preseason series).

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