Gameday: Raptors @ Hornets, Apr. 5

The last time the Raptors played the Hornets, the Jeremy Lamb half-court heave ended the game. I was in the arena for that one, and man, watching it hang for that long I felt like Dwyane Wade watching Kyle Lowry’s Game 1, 3/4 court heave. It was inevitable that, that shot was going in, that’s the way things work. Considering that shot and loss have no implications for how the Raptors playoff seeding shakes out, it serves as a fun anecdote from another banner year in Toronto. The Raptors have been uniform of late. They’ve played middling, and bad teams, and won five in a row. Hopefully, this game will shake out similarly.

It’s been a clear focus of Nick Nurse’s to take some of the load off of Lowry and shift some of the offensive decision making to Fred VanVleet and Marc Gasol. VanVleet because of his overwhelmingly excellent play, and Gasol for his pedigree and clear need to establish chemistry before the playoffs roll around. Since VanVleet’s return he’s logging 31-minutes per game, eclipsing Lowry by four minutes in that time. Outside of the intended function of resting Lowry, VanVleet has been developing a more concrete rapport with Serge Ibaka who has recently moved to the bench – and dominated in his role there.

Louis Zatzman watched every damn assist from VanVleet to Ibaka this year and gleaned things from that, as one would. You can find that piece here.

Starting 5 +Ibaka Minutes Per Game Since VanVleet’s Return From Injury 19/03/17 3PT% In That Time
Kyle Lowry  27.1 (7 Minutes Lower Than Season Average) 38%/6.3 3PA
Danny Green  25.7 (2 Minutes Lower Than Season Average) 55%/6.2 3PA
Kawhi Leonard  33 (1 Minute Lower/Also Rested 3 Games) 41%/4.9 3PA
Pascal Siakam  32.5 (.5 Higher Than Season Average) 38%/3.2 3PA
Marc Gasol  26.3 (2 Minutes Higher Than Season Average) 48%/2.9 3PA
Serge Ibaka  22.5 (5 Minutes Lower Than Season Average) 53%/2.1 3PA

There’s a definitive style the Raptors have been playing of late, and it’s been working. Yes, it’s working against sub-par competition, but they smoked both the Nets and the Magic, who aren’t really sub-par. Looking at the Trailblazers/Pelicans series of last year as an indicator that matchups are very important, lends itself to the encouraging fact that the Raptors properly thumped a team that presents difficult and unique matchups for them (Magic).

What I’m trying to say with everything above is that this version of the Raptors is going to bounce the Hornets tonight. The Raptors have been far too sharp as of late, and in too many different ways for the Hornets to find continuous solves to the problems the Raptors present. Oh right, the Hornets are not going to shoot like they did last time. Kemba Walker did a great job navigating the pressure/trap heavy defense the Raptors threw at him, but expecting another 18-triple on 44-percent night from the Hornets is the most wishful of thinking – they’ve shot 35-percent on the year, good for 21st in the NBA.

Of course there’s always a chance that the Raptors rest Lowry or something – apparently, the plan is to play Leonard without any load management the rest of the way – but there’s no word out on that yet.

Cold-Ish Take

Dwayne Bacon will most definitely not replicate his 5-triple quarter from last time.

Game Info

TV: SportsNet One | Radio: TSN1050 | Tipoff: 7pm EST

Raptors Updates

Patrick McCaw (thumb) is out for the remainder of the regular season, OG Anunoby (concussion symptoms) is probable after missing the last 4 games.

PG: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Jeremy Lin, Jordan Loyd

SG: Danny Green, Norman Powell, Jodie Meeks

SF: Kawhi Leonard, OG Anunoby, Malcolm Miller

PF: Pascal Siakam

C: Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Chris Boucher

Hornets Updates

Marvin Williams (foot) is day-to-day, Tony Parker (personal) is doubtful, Cody Zeller (knee) is doubtful.

PG: Kemba Walker, Shelvin Mack, Devonte’ Graham

SG: Dwayne Bacon, Jeremy Lamb, Malik Monk, JP Macura

SF: Miles Bridges, Nicolas Batum

PF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Frank Kaminsky

C: Bismack Biyombo, Willy Hernangomez

Keep a look out for what jeans Michael Jordan wears to this one.

Have a blessed day.

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