Of the seven games slated to be played tonight in the NBA, only two feature two teams with losing records. One of those games is between the Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors, and we’ll be previewing the matchup before going over how I’ll be betting on the game.
The Toronto Raptors have been a disappointment this season, and over their last ten games, they’ve gone 4-6 with a -.4 NET efficiency rating. In that ten-game span, the Raptors rank 24th in the league in offensive efficiency, and that ranking is pretty on par with their full-season rating, which has them ranked 19th in the league.
Shooting has been a catastrophe this season for Toronto but especially of late. Their 49.8% effective field goal percentage is the worst in the league over the past ten games, and for the entire season, they rank 29th in both three-point shooting and two-point shooting percentages.
Toronto has not relied on the three-ball a lot this season, but they do attempt the seventh most field goals per game in the league, so the below-average shooting numbers are being amplified on a consistent basis.
Bad shooting isn’t just limited to the Raptors tonight, though, as the Charlotte Hornets have shooting numbers that fall very close to Toronto’s. Over the Hornets' recent ten-game stretch, in which they went 3-7, they ranked 27th in true shooting percentage and 28th in effective field goal percentage.
The biggest reason Toronto has been able to win six more games than the Hornets this season is defense. Charlotte’s 114.6 defensive efficiency rating ranks 26th in the league this season. The lack of rebounding on the defensive end has led to the Hornets' opponents averaging 14.3 second-chance points a game, which is the tenth-highest average in the NBA.
The point total for this game is currently 230.5, and my best bet for the game is the under. If Toronto has done one thing well over their last ten games, its defense; with a defensive efficiency rating of 111.8, the Raptors rank fourth in the league in that stretch. The mix of the Raptors' defense and the Hornets' offense leads me to believe this will be a low-scoring affair.
Arguably Charlotte’s biggest offensive strength this season has been scoring in the paint, as they average 54 points per game down-low. Toronto can limit this part of their offense from start to finish since, over their last ten games, they have held opponents to an average of 47 points in the paint per game, the seventh-best average in the league.
Toronto runs at the fifth slowest pace in the NBA this season, and if they can force the Hornets, who have run at the fastest pace in the league the last ten games, to slow down and play the Raptors style of game, then this current total is a bit too high and gives the under a lot of value.