The Toronto Raptors look to make it two straight victories over the Charlotte Hornets when the Eastern Conference playoff longshots square off on Saturday. As part of the NBA’s COVID-19 altered schedule, we’re being treated to a season-long slate of consecutive matchups between these teams in the same city.
Toronto got past Charlotte in a hard-fought battle on Thursday night and needs another victory in the worst way after getting off to a horrific start. The rebuilding Hornets will be looking to get back in the win column to snap their modest losing streak.
Let’s take a look at the NBA odds for all of tonight’s matchups before we find out the answers to both questions.
Charlotte Hornets (6-7) at Toronto Raptors (3-8)
When: Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
NBA Odds: OFF
Let’s take a look at the odds to win the 2021 NBA Conference Championships!
Revamped Hornets Have Surprised So far!
Charlotte has lost two straight after winning its previous four games. The Hornets were on the wrong end of a crushing 111-108 road loss against Toronto on Thursday. Veteran combo guard Terry Rozier scored a team-high 22 points on 10-of 16 shooting while PJ Washington added 20 points. Prized rookie LaMelo Ball chipped in 14 points, 11 assists, and six rebounds in the loss but veteran forward Gordon Hayward sat out with a hip injury.
The Hornets have been surprisingly competitive this season and currently rank 24th in scoring (107.2 ppg) and eighth in points allowed (107.5 ppg). Charlotte has gone 3-4 on the road and sits in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings a half-game ahead of New York, Cleveland and Miami.
Raptors Desperate to Get Back on Track!
The Raptors have recorded a winning record in seven straight seasons while capturing the Atlantic Division six times, including three straight coming into this season. The 2019 NBA champs reached the conference semifinals last season before getting ousted by Boston in seven thrilling games.
Unfortunately, the perennial winning franchise is in the midst of a mini-rebuild that saw the team part ways with veteran big men Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. Toronto lost its first three games and six of seven to start the 2020-21 campaign. The Raptors managed to snap a two-game skid by getting past the Hornets as Chris Boucher came off the bench to score a team-high 25 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Four other players added double figures in scoring to lift Toronto. The Raptors are putting up 111.1 points per game to rank 16th in scoring, but are giving up 112.1 points per contest defensively (19th).
Expert Analysis and Prediction
I’ve got to be honest. While I expected Toronto to take a slight step backward this season, I certainly didn’t anticipate the Raptors being as awful as they’ve looked so far.
Pascal Siakam made his first all-star team last season, but he’s looked and played like a straight-up reserve ever since last season’s playoffs. I love Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, but the pair need far more help than what they’ve gotten so far.
On the flip side of the coin, Charlotte has looked way more competitive than anyone expected and clearly, LaMelo Ball is the kind of player that makes everyone around him better, even as a rookie.
Charlotte almost got the win on Thursday night and that was without Gordon Hayward. On Saturday, I’m going with the Hornets to extract some revenge. The Hornets are 5-1 ATS in their last six games and an identical 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings against Toronto.
The Raptors are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games and a discouraging 1-8 ATS in their last nine home games. Charlotte wins to cover the spread as a slight road dog.
Pick: Charlotte 115, Toronto 110
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