The Raptors came to visit the Hornets in North Carolina for a shock that smelled like the play-in tournament in the East. Who did the right operation in the race for the Top 8? We tell you that right away.
For the Charlotte masterclass box score, it’s right here.
As we gently attack the last quarter of the season, direct confrontations are starting to be worth gold. To beat a competitor for the Playoffs is to create a nice rapprochement (or a gap) and potentially afford the tie-breaker for the end of the season, a key element when the gaps are slim. With 22 games left to play, the Hornets know they have no more time to waste. Ninth in the East and on a series of three losses in a row, the friends of LaMelo Ball can no longer afford to let too many games slip by, otherwise the Top 8 will move away and the competition will return to the retro. A result was therefore essential against the Raptors who have shown great things in recent weeks (9 wins in 11 games), settling comfortably in seventh place in the East.
We were expecting a reaction from the hornets and it didn’t take long to see the scenario fall into place. Applied and serious from the outset, the men of North Carolina quickly took the Raptors by the throat. If the Hornets’ quick game works wonders, it’s especially defensively that we can applaud. Seeing Charlotte return to the break without having taken 50 points was already very strong and James Borrego’s players even managed to limit Toronto to… 14 units after returning from the locker room. Proof that the word defense isn’t always an allergy in the MJ franchise. It makes a hell of a difference to winning a match, and if Terry Rozier & co start to get hot on the other side, watch out. The ball circulates perfectly, the offensive responsibilities are well shared, the bench does the job and the victory quickly turns into… a beating. We are not bookmakers but imagining the Hornets giving the Raptors 30 given the respective dynamics, that must have promised good odds.
We’re going to talk quickly about our friends from the North because they also “participated”. Unfortunately, we are leaving for a big game to forget for Nick Nurse and his family. The start of the meeting had set the tone and the coach was already furious after a few minutes. He did not yet know what he would have the right to. Apart from Scottie Barnes who magnificently made people forget (or almost) his All-Star Weekend Shaqtin’ a Fool, there is not much to save from this meeting.. Accustomed to playing a lot and with a reduced rotation, the Raptors obviously did not like this short one-week break. With now three defeats in four games, a reaction will be expected tomorrow at the Hawks.
The Hornets wanted to get off to a good start after the break and they trampled on the Raptors who are obviously still on vacation. The race for the Top 8 in the East promises to be thrilling until the end.