The two teams have had contrasting starts to their respective NBA campaigns. While the Charlotte Hornets have surprised many by the quality they have shown this season, the Toronto Raptors have struggled, winning only two of their ten games.
However, considering the talent present in both rosters, this game could be an enticing one.
Fixture: Charlotte Hornets vs Toronto Raptors - NBA Season 2020-21.
Date & Time: Thursday, 14th January 2021 - 7:30 PM ET (Friday, 15th January 2021 - 6:00 AM IST).
Venue: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL.
Charlotte Hornets Preview
Despite their recent loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Charlotte Hornets fans have a lot to be excited about.
The team's offense looks exceptional at the moment. Players like LaMelo Ball, Devonte' Graham, Terry Rozier and PJ Washington have looked excellent for the franchise so far. These players can not only score from both the inside and outside but also create shots for their teammates and tend to make them better.
While many have criticized the defensive system of the Charlotte Hornets, it has worked well for them, especially against the Dallas Mavericks.
Players switch instantly, which tends to confuse the opposition on several occasions. However, there are still some tweaks that need to be made for this facet of their game to work against the elite teams in the competition.
Key Player - Gordon Hayward
Gordon Hayward has been a key player for the Charlotte Hornets this season. The 30-year-old is averaging 22.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and four assists while shooting 50.3% from the field and 40.4% from beyond the arc.
He is also a very good defender and can guard from positions one to four. Overall, the player has been an excellent talismanic figure for the franchise and will likely play a pivotal role against the Toronto Raptors.
Charlotte Hornets Predicted Lineup
G Devonte' Graham, G Terry Rozier, F Gordon Hayward, F PJ Washington, C Bismack Biyombo.
Toronto Raptors Preview
The Toronto Raptors, quite obviously, have been struggling. But their progression during the last few games has been encouraging for the franchise's fans.
In their last three games, the Toronto Raptors blew out a very good Sacramento Kings team while only losing by a single point to the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers respectively.
Their performances against three good teams augurs well for their chances of turning around their dismal start to the season and get some wins on the board.
Key Player - Fred VanVleet
Despite the Toronto Raptors' spate of underwhelming results, Fred VanVleet has performed well for the franchise this season.
The 26-year-old is averaging 20.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game while shooting 45.1% from the field and 38.9% from behind the arc. The player has also had a presence in defense, blocking out passing lanes and stealing the ball to earn possessions for his team.
If the Toronto Raptors wish to steal this game away from the Charlotte Hornets, they will need Fred VanVleet to play at his absolute best.
Toronto Raptors Predicted Lineup
G Kyle Lowry, G Fred VanVleet, F OG Anunoby, F Pascal Siakam, C Chris Boucher.
Charlotte Hornets vs Toronto Raptors Match Prediction
While the signs may be slightly encouraging for the Toronto Raptors at the moment, the team still hasn't been able to find its swagger this season. On the other hand, the Charlotte Hornets have stepped their game up massively this season and have a fair bit of momentum with them at the moment.
While the Toronto Raptors do have the arguably better talent of the two teams, they just don't have that sense of togetherness this season, which could be their undoing in this matchup. Thus the Charlotte Hornets go into this game as the more likelier team to grab the win.