On Monday night the Raptors will host a team that they defeated all four times in 2017/18, and have a 8-2 record against since the start of 2016. But the Charlotte Hornets won’t be a pushover opponent – they showed plenty of promise in their season opener against the Bucks despite losing by a sole point and crushed the Orlando Magic in their second outing.
Toronto’s start to the season has also been a big statement as they push towards yet another playoff appearance. Their win over the Cavs was emphatic.
This game marked the arrival of Kawhi Leonard, and he didn’t fail to live up to the hype. 24 points and 13 rebounds capped off a dominant display, and he is one to watch in this fixture. After struggling with injuries throughout the 2017-18 season, Leonard looks the real deal, and could be seen as one of the gains of the season if he can stay fit.
The other KL on the team, Kyle Lowry, will once again be leading the way, and as long as he puts in another similar performance (27 points and 5/6 from outside the ring) the Raptors should win comfortably.
We are wary that the Raptors have a tendency of letting their opposition get back into the game after leading early, something they are guilty of at home more often than not. The Hornets have already proved that they can come from behind and almost snatch a victory (they were down by 20 points in their opener and only lost by one point).
Hornets first-year coach James Borrego has shown he’s not afraid to try different tactics to turn the tide, and it almost worked against the Bucks in that fourth quarter.
But we don’t think lightning will strike twice – Toronto are good enough to win this comfortably at home, which means this will come down to the final five minutes. The line for this match is set at -9.5 for the Raptors, and the over/under is set at 224 points. We’re tipping Toronto to win with the handicap, although we’re steering clear of the over/under market.
Go for the Raptors -9.5 @ -101.