Coming off one of their most lopsided losses of the season, the Toronto Raptors (25-40) will look to get back on track when they host the league-worst Charlotte Bobcats (14-50) at the Air Canada Centre Friday evening, 7:00pm ET on TSN2.
The Raptors -- losers of seven of their last nine games -- fell 112-88 in Boston on Wednesday, their second largest margin of defeat this year.
Although a match-up with the lowly Bobcats could be just what the doctor ordered for Toronto, it's not one that Dwane Casey and company will take lightly.
Charlotte snapped a 10-game losing streak, defeating the Celtics 100-74 on Tuesday and has had some recent success against the Raptors, winning seven of the last nine meetings.
Trends and Tidbits
These clubs have split their first two meetings of the season, with each team winning at home. Charlotte was the beneficiary of a botched call, later acknowledged by the league, that should have sent Andrea Bargnani to the line with a chance to win the first affair back in November, a 98-97 victory for the Bobcats. The Raptors cruised to a 99-78 rout over the Bobcats at home Jan. 11.
The Raptors have registered 19 or fewer assists in half of their last 20 games, averaging 19.9 and ranking 28th in that category. Prior to the trade for Rudy Gay, they had dished out 20 or more dimes in 22 of 23, tallying 25.1 per game, good for second in the league over that stretch.
DeMar DeRozan continues to evolve as a passer and the addition of Gay has helped him see the floor better. DeRozan has had five or more assists in 11 games this season after reaching that mark in just five contests over his first three years in the league.
Gay is five for his last 28 attempts from three-point range.
What to Watch For
- Limiting Freebies
Despite their poor standing in the league, the Bobcats have been one of the better teams in terms of getting to the free throw line this season. Ranked fourth in the NBA, getting to the line over 25 times per game, Charlotte's lineup features a number of quick perimeter players that can break down the defence and get to the rim before opponents have the chance to adjust. The point guard tandem of Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions (out with an MCL sprain) is averaging just under 10 attempts combined while Gerald Henderson, playing some of the best ball of his career, is coming off a performance in which he shot a perfect 12-for-12 from the stripe.
Although the Raptors are ranked sixth in free throw percentage, they are a middle of the pack team when it comes to getting to the line. Toronto made all but two freebies in the Celtics loss but only got to the line 19 times, compared to the 35 attempts given to Boston. A Raptors/Bobcats affair isn't likely to be an aesthetically pleasing one, so Toronto must take advantage of any opportunity for easy points.
Who to Watch For
With the Raptors shifting their focus to the future, guard Terrence Ross has been the beneficiary of some added playing time recently. Casey has allowed Ross to play through mistakes, which seems to have brought his confidence back up. The Raptors' rookie has scored in double figures in a career-best three straight games, averaging 12.3 points on 45 per cent shooting over that stretch. With sporadic playing time, Ross shot just 25 per cent in his previous 14 games, held scoreless in half of those contests.
After a slow start to the season, the fourth-year guard-forward is starting to come around for the Bobcats. Henderson battled a foot injury early in the year, missing the first meeting against Toronto and playing just 17 minutes off the bench in the second. However, Henderson has started the last 29 games and propelled Charlotte to its first win in a month with a career-high 35 points in Tuesday's victory over the Celtics.
Andrea Bargnani (right elbow) - out