Raptors Report! Raptors to Edge Hornets in Defensive Battle
Raptors and Hornets Will Be Low-Scoring Dogfight
Toronto and Charlotte meet an average of 3.5 times a year and neither team has been able to assert their dominance. Since Charlotte rebranded back to the Hornets, no team has won more than three meetings in a row (Raptors won three straight in 2016). The Raptors will be -8.0 favourites, which appears like an overestimation considering the two teams' history of tight games.
The Raptors are 4-2 against Charlotte in their last six games in the ACC but have only won by over eight points in one of these wins. In their last 11 meetings overall, the Raptors have only won by more than eight points twice and in their last three meetings, the Raptors are 0-3 against the spread (ATS) and 1-2 straight-up (SU).
Charlotte is still trying to find its groove this season and is 1-8 SU on the road, 2-6-1 ATS, and 2-7 as an underdog. Something's gotta give when these two lowkey rivals meet.
Despite flourishing under a new offense, Raptors rank third in offensive rating (109.9) and effective field goal percentage (55.1), they can still have a grit-and-grind mentality. The Raptors ranked ninth in defensive rating (102.5), fourth in blocks (5.8), and seventh in steals (8.5). They are much better beyond stats like they showed when they defeated Washington and almost beat Boston despite shooting poorly.
The Hornets are one of the NBA's better defensive teams. Thanks to the addition of Dwight Howard, a solid presence in the post, the Hornets rank in the top five in defensive rebounds per game (third) and surrendering points off of turnovers (third), second-chance points (fifth), and fast breaks (second). Their backcourt, led by star point guard Kemba Walker, has been the reason why they rank first in turnover percentage (13.1).
What Charlotte lacks is the offensive output and efficiency of the Raptors ranking 17th in offensive rating (104.2), 27th in assist percentage (53.6), and 26th in effective field goal percentage (49.7). If the Hornets don't clamp down, they'll be on the losing end of a gunfight and will have to rely on Walker to carry the load.
The Raptors are better equipped to win this game but eight points is a lot considering their history. A teaser to lower the spread or a staight-up bet at -315 is a better play or just pass on this and bet the under on team totals. Five of their last six games at the ACC didn't even touch 200 points and both teams have a tendency to go on shooting slumps.
Toronto Can Quickly Avenge Loss Against Indiana
Following the Hornets game, the Raptors host the Indiana Pacers in a quick rematch following their 107-104 loss in Indiana last week. The Raptors were slightly favoured but lost thanks to third-period woes again getting outscored 31-20 in the third. Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 21 points while Lance Stephenson came strong off the bench with 18.
Lowry had another strong performance with a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds to go with eight assists. Fred VanVleet and Norm Powell added 16 points apiece from the bench. The silver lining is the Raptors' bench is starting to come together with a string of strong performances from the likes of Powell, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl.
Toronto will likely again be slight favourites in this rematch as the Raptors look to quickly get back the painful loss. Expect them to start fast and not let the Pacers off the hook this time. A blowout win will be just the statement to make.
Toronto Raptors 2017-18 Season Outlook
Thanks to their lengthy break and a win streak from Cleveland, Toronto is now fourth in the Eastern Conference and 4.5 games behind the Boston Celtics. They are still second in the Atlantic Division but need to beat both Charlotte and Indiana as Philadelphia is creeping right behind them.
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