Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

In what should be an intriguing matchup in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors travel to Charlotte to take on the Hornets on Saturday night. The Raptors have been the model of consistency the last few years, but currently find themselves on unsteady ground with a 17-20 overall record. They lost a heartbreaker to Atlanta on Thursday night, and hope to bounce back against a Charlotte team, who gutted out a victory late in the game against Detroit in their first game back from the break. There is something good brewing with the Hornets, and they hope to move their record over .500 for the first time in a long time with a win Saturday night.

Will Pascal Siakam finally get some support on offense?

The Raptors have had their roster trimmed significantly since their title run two years ago, and the only two key contributors that remain are steady point guard Kyle Lowry and budding star forward Pascal Siakam. Siakam was not an All-Star this season, but is undoubtedly the heart and soul of the Raptors as they sit currently, and he hopes to shoulder the load on offense and put his team on his back to hopefully earn them a playoff berth.

Siakam is a big factor in this game, as Charlotte has not shown that they have a ton of skill in their frontcourt. He is also a player who can step outside and shoot the ball, and so the Hornets could have a tough time with him if he is on his game. He comes in averaging over 20 points per game and contributes mightily on defense, but he is going to definitely need help in the backcourt outside of Kyle Lowry, if the Raptors expect to appear in the postseason yet again in 2021.

Hornets have the talent and camaraderie, but must find consistency

Charlotte has been a big surprise to many this season with how well they have played with their young core, and how established vets like Gordon Hayward and Cody Zeller have fit into the mix. They gutted out an impressive win over Detroit Thursday night, in a game where they made key shots late in order to secure the victory. But then again, many expected them to blowout the lowly Pistons, but a win is a win. They have a much more formidable opponent on Friday night in Toronto, who is desperate to find a rhythm and sneak into the postseason.

The Hornets definitely feature a significant advantage in the backcourt with guards Lamelo Ball and Terry Rozier, as well as Gordon Hayward, but Toronto is historically known for shutting down dangerous guards when it matters. If Charlotte shoots the ball at a high rate, they will most likely be successful, but this contest will be no cakewalk. These are two teams fighting for playoff spots in the East, and it will be a tremendous test for the young Hornets up against the gritty veteran core that the Raptors possess.

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet
Rating:

I like the Hornets, but I do not necessarily trust them yet against veteran teams. I think Nick Nurse has the formula to slow down explosive backcourts as he has shown in the past, and so this game could be won in the paint, where the Raptors have the advantage. It should be a close game, but I think the Raptors scrap together a much-needed victory on the road.

Prediction:
Raptors +2

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Full-Game Total Pick
Rating:

To my previous point, this is a game where post play is going to matter. The Hornets won’t get the open looks that they have all season, and I think Toronto will slow the game down and win in what should be an old-school looking, slow paced game.

Prediction:
Under – 229.5