By: Josh Weinstein

Get tickets to tonight's Pitch Talks event at the Oshawa Curling Club here. The panel features a number of high-profile journalists, including Sportsnet's Arash Madani, Shi Davidi, Arden Swelling, Mike Wilner, and many more! It's a night you're not going to want to miss! 

After a three-day break, the Toronto Raptors (12-7) return to the court against the Charlotte Hornets (8-11) for game number 20 of the 2017-18 campaign. It’s the first of four meetings between the two teams this season.

On paper, the Raptors have the clear edge entering this matchup. Toronto has played very well at home, compiling a 6-1 record at Air Canada Centre, whereas Charlotte has a subpar 1-8 record away from the Spectrum Center. On top of the poor road record, the Hornets will be down star point guard Kemba Walker, a player who initiates most of the team’s offence.

Walker, the Hornets leading scorer (22.3 PPG) and distributor (6.2 APG), will sit out with shoulder soreness. Last season, Walker absolutely torched the Raptors, averaging 28.8 points against them, so not having him in the lineup is a massive disadvantage for a Charlotte team that doesn’t have many players capable of creating their own offence. Look for Dwight Howard, the still-recovering Nicolas Batum, and Jeremy Lamb to try and pick up the slack. Howard, in particular, should be fed often when matched up with Jonas Valanciunas. I like his chances in that matchup.

C.J. Miles is set to return for Toronto after a two-game absence following the birth of his newborn daughter. His presence instantly enhances the outside shooting on the second unit, as well as the group's ability to create instant offence. It will be interesting to see how Miles and Norman Powell mesh together on the second unit going forward. Both are capable offensive options and could be lethal playing off one another.

After sitting out practice Monday, DeMar DeRozan will play tonight. The all-star has struggled of late, scoring 31 points combined in his past three games. Maybe playing in front of the Raptors faithful will be enough to help him wake up from his slump.

Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM ET.

Projected starting lineups:

Toronto Raptors

  • PG Kyle Lowry
  • SG DeMar DeRozan
  • SF OG Anunoby
  • PF Serge Ibaka
  • C Jonas Valanciunas

Charlotte Hornets

  • PG Michael Carter-Williams
  • SG Nicolas Batum
  • SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
  • PF Marvin Williams
  • C Dwight Howard