The Toronto Raptors continue their Eastern conference road swing against the Charlotte Hornets who are sitting a spot behind the Raptors in the conference. The Raptors (16-10) are coming off a disappointing loss to the Indiana Pacers, in which Dwane Casey attested to fatigue: “we ran out of gas.”
Charlotte (14-10) on the other hand, are also coming off a tough loss against the lowly Orlando Magic, turning the ball over a significant number of times. Both teams are coming off losses, giving more than enough motivation to get back on a winning track.
DeMar DeRozan was recently named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, due to his consistent and efficient performances offensively; with Charlotte’s defensive weapons individually, it’s going to be a tough task for him specifically to get into any sort of momentum. Charlotte has always been tough for DeRozan and the Raptors – let’s see how they fare tonight.
Raptors Cage’s Keys To The Game
The Hornets are the best team in the league in terms of taking care of the basketball. What it usually entails, is less run-out opportunities for the opposition, and less defensive breakdowns because the defense is allowed to settle in. That must be a major point of emphasis for Dwane Casey and his club, considering the Raptors are yet to find consistency in the half-court, especially without either Jonas Valanciunas or DeMarre Carroll. Pressure the ball-handler, rotate quickly, and fill the passing lanes, which will all hopefully lead to some forced turnovers.
Charlotte is a very physical team, and although they’ve been without their centre Al Jefferson due to injury and suspension, they are still a very physically demanding team. Like Casey always says, can’t be hit with the hay-maker first and then retaliate, it’s got to be a game where the Raptors hand out their fair share of punishment.
Attack the Paint
The Raptors are full of paint-attacking players, but the even better part of that? Charlotte has no paint presence without Al Jefferson, who from the start isn’t even that great of a defensive anchor. Kyle Lowry and DeRozan will likely set the table on that end, however, keep in mind that the Indiana game they led the team, followed by nothing but poor play. It’s up to the others to step and follow suit.
Ross has been anything but an X-factor in recent games; he’s been an absolute non-factor as a matter of fact. He’s got to contribute, especially tonight with the assortment of wing players that Charlotte can throw into the game. Steady play, shoot the ball when you’re open, run the sideline, attack if you see an opening, and bring back the defensive energy that Raptor fans got used to seeing in the good parts of your career. C’mon Ross, make that money worth it.