When the Charlotte Hornets face the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, it will be their second meeting of a back-to-back set. The NBA found a home for the Raptors in Florida after strict travel restrictions in Canada due to the coronavirus pandemic have kept them from playing at home.
That might explain some of the struggles Toronto Raptors have had currently with a 3-8 record on the season. Their latest win was Thursday’s narrow 111-108 escape after the Hornets failed to capitalize on the Raptors’ struggles from the field in the fourth quarter.
Check out the entire first half schedule of the 2020-21 NBA season here.
Fixture - Charlotte Hornets vs Toronto Raptors | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Saturday, January 16th, 7:30 PM ET (Sunday, January 17th, 6:00 AM IST)
Location - Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
After four consecutive victories, the Charlotte Hornets have dropped their last two games. The Hornets just didn’t have enough firepower on Thursday with Gordon Hayward missing the game due to a strained left hip. He is listed as questionable to play tonight and making him a game-time decision.
With the Toronto Raptors struggling this season, the win on Thursday was a breath of fresh air. But coach Nick Nurse and his Raptors are hoping that they can build off of the momentum from that game to mount a series of wins in the next few days.
Charlotte Hornets Preview
The four-game win streak appeared to be the start of something special for the Charlotte Hornets who are hoping to make the playoffs this season. The addition of Gordon Hayward has galvanized the Hornets who have been looking for a focal point in the offense ever since the departure of Kemba Walker two seasons ago.
Even without Hayward in the lineup on Thursday, the Hornets nearly pulled off an upset but came up just short. The next meeting with the Toronto Raptors could be just as close especially if Hayward isn’t at 100 percent or misses the game entirely.
Key Player - P.J. Washington
The last four games have seen P.J. Washington develop into a legitimate scoring threat, averaging 17.8 points per game with a high of 22 in a win against the Atlanta Hawks last week. The second-year forward has also been banging with the big boys at an 8.3-rebound per game clip during that span.
Should Hayward be unavailable to play against the Toronto Raptors tonight, Washington’s play will be put in the spotlight. Though his scoring will be his most important contribution, Washington’s board work will be just as valuable against the Raptors.
Charlotte Hornets Predicted Lineup
G Devonte Graham G Terry Rozier F Cody Martin F P.J. Washington C Bismack Biyombo
Toronto Raptors Preview
It has been quite a difficult season for the Toronto Raptors who are far from the championship team of 2018. As they face the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, the Raptors will have to rally the troops to make sure that they protect home court.
There’s hope for Nurse’s squad as they have been playing competitive basketball of late. They should be better prepared in their second meeting with the Hornets.
Key Player - Pascal Siakam
Much of the blame for the Toronto Raptors’ early struggles this season stemmed from a down year by Pascal Siakam. But in their last six games, Siakam (22.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists) played up to his usual standards as the Raptors stayed competitive only to lose four of those games.
If Siakam can become a more consistent 25-point scorer, the Raptors should slowly move up in the standings beginning with this game.
Toronto Raptors Predicted Lineup
G Kyle Lowry G Fred VanVleet F OG Anunoby F Pascal Siakam C Aron Baynes
Hornets vs Raptors Match Prediction
The most important factor heading into this game is Gordon Hayward. If he plays on Saturday, the upstart Charlotte Hornets are likely going to win especially as their players are becoming more and more comfortable with sharing the basketball around.
The Toronto Raptors have been playing much better the last four games and this will be a dogfight regardless of Hayward’s status. Without the Charlotte Hornets’ 11-year veteran, however, the Raptors will have the edge and win their second straight.