Hornets vs. Raptors NBA Odds & Picks: Back Charlotte With or Without Hayward

Hornets vs. Raptors NBA Odds & Picks: Back Charlotte With or Without Hayward article feature image
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Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Gordon Hayward.

Hornets vs. Raptors Odds

Hornets Odds +8 [BET NOW]
Raptors Odds -8 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +280 / -350 [BET NOW]
Over/Under N/A [BET NOW]
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV League Pass
Odds as of Friday at 9:45 p.m. ET and via FanDuel. Get up to a $1,000 risk-free bet at FanDuel today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

The Toronto Raptors will look to secure back-to-back wins for the first time this season when they complete a two-game “home” set against the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

After a grueling four-game West Coast trip through Phoenix, Sacramento, Golden State and Portland that saw them go 1-3, the Raptors returned to their current home arena in Tampa and beat Charlotte, 111-108, on Thursday night.

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Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets started the season by losing two straight against the Cavaliers and Thunder before beating the Nets (with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving) and Mavericks. They followed that up with three straight losses, then four straight wins. Charlotte has now lost back-to-back games against the Mavericks and Raptors.

Entering this game, the biggest injury note is that Gordon Hayward missed Thursday night’s game due to a hip injury. It was the back end of a back-to-back set for the Hornets, and Hayward was initially listed as probable after the Hornets’ loss on Wednesday before being downgraded to doubtful. He was active on Thursday but did not play.

After an offseason that saw them draft LaMelo Ball and sign Hayward, it’s the Charlotte defense that has stood out this season. The Hornets enter play on Friday ranked eighth in Defensive Rating, according to NBA Advanced Stats, at 107.5. The Hornets have been going nine deep in most games since center Cody Zeller broke his left hand on Dec. 23, and none of those players have a Defensive Rating over 110.0.

The defense has been a massive improvement from Charlotte’s 112.8 rating in 65 games last season. That had them 25th in the NBA with a 23-42 record.

Unfortunately, the Hornets rank just 21st in Offensive Rating, which is holding them back at the moment from being anything more than a potentially .500 team.

Hayward (49% field goal, 41.3% 3-point) and Terry Rozier (47.9% field goal, 43.6 3-point) are shooting well from the field, but they’re getting very little help from elsewhere. They are the only Hornets players averaging more than 13 points per game.

Something that would be a big boost to Charlotte would be if Devonte’ Graham could find his shooting touch. Graham is shooting 30.1% from the field and 31.4% from beyond the arc this season. Graham is thriving defensively to make up for his offensive woes, though, ranking second on the Hornets in Net Rating behind Miles Bridges.


Toronto Raptors

Toronto really needed its win on Thursday night over Charlotte. The Raptors started 2021 with a 1-3 record and were 1-5 in the new year before narrowly beating the Hornets.

The Raptors have been unspectacular both offensively (15th in Offensive Rating entering Friday) and defensively (22nd in Defensive Rating).

There are a few factors to take into account for the slow start, and one has to be playing at a home away from home. Being relocated to Florida might bring better weather than a Toronto winter, but it’s no doubt a difficult adjustment. Add in the fact that only four of the Raptors’ first 11 games have been at home, and the slow start is perfectly understandable.

Toronto was expected to rely heavily on its trio of Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, the last of whom got a fresh four-year contract worth $85 million during the offseason.

All three have been fine this season, although Siakam is struggling defensively. The biggest positive this season for the Raptors, though, is a burgeoning big man off their bench: Chris Boucher.

Boucher is a late bloomer at 28 years old, but he showed flashes of potential last season and has been given a bigger role this year because of the departures of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka in free agency.

Over his last seven games, during which he’s averaged 25.6 minutes off the Raptors’ bench, the 6-foot-9 Boucher is averaging 17.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and a very impressive 2.6 blocks. His 113.4 Offensive Rating leads the Raptors’ regulars, while his 107.6 mark on defense isn’t too shabby either.

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Hornets-Raptors Pick

This opened on Friday night at Raptors -8. Even if Hayward is inactive, that seems like a good number for the Hornets.

If Hayward is active, I’d jump on Charlotte at as high a number as you can get. Any moneyline over +200 might be worth a look, as well. The Hornets are defending well and played Toronto well the other night. We’ll see how much books think of Hayward and his importance to the Hornets even if he’s out.

If Hayward is out, I still like playing the Hornets. Toronto hasn’t shown enough this season that a couple extra nights of sleep at “home” will sway my opinion. Without their leading scorer, the line will go up on Charlotte and so will the value.

Pick: Hornets +8 (down to +4.5 only if Hayward is active)

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