Last year’s No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors, are off to a roaring start again in 2018-19. The 3-0 Raptors will host the 2-1 Charlotte Hornets tonight (7:30pm ET Monday).
Toronto has some key new pieces on its roster, including former San Antonio Spurs Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Both players solidify the Raptors’ defense and give the team some extra offensive punch to more than offset the losses of DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl.
Charlotte’s roster looks pretty similar to last year’s group. The Hornets did add another former Spur, Tony Parker, to solidify its bench unit, but he’s not really an impact player anymore. Yet another former member of the Spurs’ organization, James Borrego, has moved from an assistant coaching role in San Antonio to the Hornets’ head coach position. So far, he’s done a solid job with a mediocre group of players.
Which factors will take the forefront in this matchup? We will discuss some of those before putting forth some bold picks and Charlotte Hornets vs Toronto Raptors predictions on the betting lines for today’s contest.
Can Kemba Walker Keep Up His Hot Play Against Tough Matchup in Kyle Lowry?
The early NBA leader in points per game is none other than the Hornets’ Walker, who’s averaging 35.3 points per game in three contests so far. He is getting a bright green light to shoot (25.3 shots per contest) due to the Hornets’ middling offensive talent, and he is coming through. He also has an amazing 19 made three-pointers so far.
However, he will face his toughest matchup of the young season on Sunday. The Raptors’ Kyle Lowry has made the last four All-Star games and is off to a very good start to this season. Lowry specializes in three-point shooting and defense on opposing point guards.
The focus of Lowry and help from many other plus defenders on Toronto will make things tough for Walker. Can he still get solid shots and make them even with the Raptors’ defenders zeroing in on him?
Will Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Keep Kawhi Leonard in Check?
The Hornets’ best defender is Kidd-Gilchrist. He is primarily a small forward, but he is adept at checking players of all sizes. Charlotte will frequently have him switch onto bigger or smaller players when the occasion calls for it.
Against the Raptors, though, Charlotte will want him to stay attached to Leonard, a superstar scorer who has looked pretty good in the two games he has played thus far. Kawhi has averaged 27.5 points per game and has gotten to the free-throw line a total of 15 times in two contests. He got a rest against the Washington Wizards on Saturday and should be raring to go today.
Kidd-Gilchrist had seven blocks in a win against the Miami Heat on Saturday. The Hornets need that kind of intensity and playmaking from him again if they want any hope of upsetting the Raptors.
Will Both Teams’ Benches Regress to the Mean?
On paper, the reserve units for these teams shouldn’t be close in impact, with the Raptors having a healthy advantage over the Hornets.
However, early in the season, it’s Charlotte who has had a better bench. The squad is fifth in the NBA in bench scoring (43.7 points per game), and its reserves have shooting percentages of 46.7/40/61.3. The Raptors’ reserves are at 37.3 points per game with percentages of 39.4/26.5/64.1.
Surely the Raptors’ bench of Fred VanVleet, C.J. Miles, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby and one of Serge Ibaka or Jonas Valanciunas is enough to outlast Tony Parker, Malik Monk, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Miles Bridges and Willy Hernangomez, right? What we know about all of these players would suggest “yes”, but that hasn’t been the case this season. We will see if things start to even out for this Monday game.
Our Preview’s Charlotte Hornets vs. Toronto Raptors Betting Picks & Predictions Verdict
The Raptors have a very good defense. Given the lack of strong offensive talent around Kemba Walker, they should be able to keep Charlotte under 100 points for the first time in the Hornets’ season thus far.
The Raptors just have too much depth on their roster to let this game get away (or even be close) on their home floor. With those thoughts, and in a bid to beat the top online bookmakers for Americans, these are our Charlotte Hornets vs Toronto Raptors picks and betting predictions:
- Toronto just has a much more talented roster, and this is easily the toughest matchup thus far for the Hornets. Bet on the Raptors -9.5 @ best odds of -105 with Bookmaker.
- Charlotte’s offense has been very good this season, but it also hasn’t played a defense nearly as good as Toronto’s yet. The Raptors won’t be playing too fast, either, given how methodically Kawhi Leonard likes to create his offense. Go under 225.5 total points @ best odds of -105 with BetOnline.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.