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After shooting 9-for-21 (42.9%) in the first half, the Suns took it up a notch in the second half to finish the game with a season-high 21 made 3s. Crowder knocked down six triples and Cameron Johnson hit four while both Booker and Mikal Bridges sank three triples apiece.

Though the Raptors finished the night shooting a very respectable 14-for-33 (42.4%) from deep, the 21-point difference from beyond the arc was way too much to overcome.

3. It sure looks like Pascal’s back

After a rough start to the season, Siakam looked much much more like himself.

It began in the first half, where Siakam made his presence felt early and often, scoring 19 points (on 7-for-10 shooting) to go along with four rebounds. He picked up where he left off over the final 24 minutes to finish the night with a game-high 32 points to go along with eight rebounds.

It was Siakam’s first time crossing the 30-point plateau since scoring 33 points on March 3, 2020, in … Phoenix. Things haven’t been great for Toronto to start the season but with this version of Siakam, things are sure to get better sooner rather than later.

4. Phoenix’s second unit got it done

The Suns’ bench made a big difference in this one.

Led by 16 points from second-year forward Johnson, Phoenix’s second unit outscored Toronto’s bench 42-26. Dario Saric added 15 points off the bench while former Raptors training camp invitee Cameron Payne dished out a game-high 10 assists in 16 minutes off the bench.

Even more troubling for Toronto is that outside of the starting five and Cheap Norman Powell Jersey, the team only got 13 points, nine of which came from Cheap Chris Boucher Jersey. Nick Nurse continues to tinker with his rotation, giving Cheap Yuta Watanabe Jersey and Cheap Malachi Flynn Jersey minutes, but he hasn’t seemed to have found the right combination just yet.

5. VanVleet rewrites the record book…

After hitting a 3-pointer in the first quarter, Cheap Fred VanVleet Jersey made it 39 straight games with at least one made triple, setting a new Raptors franchise record.

The last time VanVleet failed to connect on a 3? Dec. 8, 2019.

6. …And Lowry does, too

While VanVleet moved to No. 1, Lowry moved up to No. 5 on the franchise’s all-time rebounding list. Lowry entered the night needing six rebounds to surpass Cheap DeMar DeRozan Jersey, which he did in the opening half.

Lowry finished with nine rebounds to bring his total as a Raptor to 2,743.

Next up? Cheap Amir Johnson Jersey, who pulled down 2,836 rebounds in a Raptors uniform.

7. CP3 continues to ease his way in

The Suns have opened the season by winning six of their first eight games, and Chris Paul has yet to truly tap into that All-Star level we saw from him last year.

After finishing with 10 points (on 4-for-12 shooting) and eight assists in 31 minutes of action, Paul is now averaging 13.3 points and 8.3 assists while shooting 40.7% from the field and 33.3% from beyond the arc. Considering the fact that Paul essentially had no true training camp with this team, there’s still plenty that he’s figuring out about playing with them and vice versa.

That Phoenix is 6-2 without its All-Star point guard playing at his peak level yet should put the rest of the Western Conference on notice.

8. What’s next?

Toronto heads to Northern California to take on the Sacramento Kings on Friday at 10 p.m. on the TSN Network.

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Tuesday is a big day worldwide, with the most anticipated U.S. election in years taking place. North of the border, it’s also a day to reflect on an important sporting anniversary.

For 25 years earlier — Nov. 3, 1995 — the NBA officially arrived in Canada, with the Toronto Raptors taking on the New Jersey Nets at SkyDome.

The Raptors won 94-79, with former all-star Cheap Alvin Robertson Jersey starring with 30 points and future rookie-of-the-year Cheap Damon Stoudamire Jersey turning the negative opinions of fans — who had booed him on draft night — around by notching his first of 86 double-doubles with Toronto.

Sporting white pin-striped jerseys adorned in the front with a large red dinosaur, the Raptors showed more than 33,000 fans what the best professional basketball players in the world could do. Well, kind of. It was a far different era for hoops. The play was more rugged, three-pointers were largely an after-thought (the teams combined for five treys on just 19 attempts), and defence was prioritized and emphasized through the rules of the day. The Nets shot a putrid 33% from the field overall and committed 29 turnovers against only 15 assists.

After Toronto Raptors guard Cheap Kyle Lowry Jersey suffered a sprained left ankle in the first quarter of the team’s Game 4 win over the Brooklyn Nets, questions began to loom surrounding his availability for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics.

MORE: Raptors-Celtics Series Preview | Lowry’s injury diagnosis

According to former Raptors guard and Sportsnet analyst Cheap Alvin Williams Jersey, there is no question – Lowry’s playing.

“I actually talked to Kyle this morning, he was feeling – he didn’t say he was feeling good – but he was like ‘I’m alright,'” Williams said on Sportsnet Monday. “You know Kyle – ‘I’m alright, I’ll be ready to go.'”

“So, that was the biggest thing,” Williams added. “We all know Kyle and how he gets down and his pedigree and that drive and his pain tolerance. All of the things that make him a champion and makes him who he is. I’m 99.9% sure he’ll be ready to play, as he expressed when I talked to him earlier today.”

Williams essentially echoed the sentiment of head coach Nick Nurse, who told reporters after Game 4 that “it’s gonna take something pretty serious to keep him out. You know how tough he is.”

Per the team’s official release, Lowry’s “condition will be updated as appropriate,” meaning we’ll get a better idea of his status for Game 1 once injury reports are made available.

Stick with NBA.com for updates on Lowry’s injury as well as his status for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Toronto and Boston open up the second round on Thursday, Aug. 27 at 6:30 p.m. ET.

The Raptors looked far more impressive, with the troubled veteran Robertson turning in what would be his highest-scoring game with the team and Stoudamire showing some of what was to come.

From an unsolicited expansion bid submitted to the NBA by future Raptors owner Larry Tanenbaum and his Palestra group in 1992, to a successful bid by a John Bitove-led group a year later, to the reveal of the team name in May 1994 (Raptors beat out fellow finalists Dragons and Bobcats), the Nov. 3 debut had been a long time coming.

The Toronto Huskies had played a single season in 1946 in the Basketball Association of America. The Buffalo Braves had spent some time in town too, and there had been NBA exhibition games held at Maple Leaf Gardens or SkyDome from the 1970s to the 1990s. But these were few and far between, leaving a small, but dedicated faction of basketball diehards with precious little to satisfy their hoop cravings.

That’s what made the arrival of the Raptors — and their ill-fated expansion cousins in Vancouver, who also started off with a Nov. 3 win — so thrilling and eagerly anticipated.

“This place is going to be packed with 30,000 people. A lot of them are not basketball fans,” original Raptors head coach Brendan Malone said on the eve of the game.

“It’s going to be a happening. The NBA back here in Toronto, and they are here so they can tell their children or whatever that they were at the Toronto SkyDome on Nov. 3, 1995, for the Toronto Raptors first game, like I was at the first game ever for the New York Mets at Shea Stadium,” he said.

“I’ll always remember that. It’s something you can always reflect on. You can say, ‘Hey, I was there.’”

The Grizzlies might not have made it, but the Raptors are still here. They have been a huge success story, becoming Canada’s basketball team and the 2019 league champions.

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What: Charlotte Hornets (6-6) at Toronto Raptors (2-8)

When: 7:30 pm EST

Where: Amalie Arena; Tampa, Fla.

How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

The Charlotte Hornets’ four-game win-streak came to an abrupt end with a poor showing last night against the Dallas Mavericks, but thankfully they have a chance to bounce back quickly tonight against a shockingly-bad Toronto Raptors squad.

The Toronto Raptors (2-8) limp back to their 2020-21 home court following a 1-3 Western Conference road trip to host the Charlotte Hornets (6-6) Thursday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. Tip-off will be at 7:30 p.m. ET. Below, we analyze the Hornets-Raptors NBA betting odds and lines, with picks and predictions.

The Raptors’ road swing ended with back-to-back single-point losses. They were topped 106-105 by the Golden State Warriors Sunday and 112-111 by the Portland Trail Blazers Monday in the second half of the back-to-back. They dropped their last home game against the Boston Celtics 126-114 Jan. 4.

The Hornets are coming off a 104-93 Wednesday loss to the Dallas Mavericks. They had previously won four in a row with two at home and two on the road. Toronto beat Charlotte twice in the preseason by scores of 111-100 and 112-109.

Hornets at Raptors: Betting odds, spread and lines
Odds via BetMGM; access USA TODAY Sports’ betting odds for a full list. Lines last updated at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Money line: Hornets +310 (bet $100 to win $310) | Raptors -400 (bet $400 to win $100)
Against the spread/ATS: Hornets +9.5 (-120) | Raptors -9.5 (+100)
Over/Under: 219.5 (O: -110 | U: -110)
Hornets at Raptors: Key Injuries
Hornets

SF Gordon Hayward (hip) questionable
C Cody Zeller (hand) out
Raptors

None affecting betting lines.

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Hornets at Raptors: Odds, betting lines, predictions and picks
Prediction
Raptors 114, Hornets 102

Money line (ML)
The Raptors (-400) will get right Thursday but we can’t justify laying -400 on a 2-8 team, or any team. They nearly pulled off a fourth-quarter comeback against the Warriors but blew a big fourth-quarter lead against the Blazers. A return to their artificial home court and an Eastern Conference opponent that began the season with much lower expectations will serve them well.

Charlotte is 2-1 in the second half of back-to-backs this year but the Raptors are well-rested and the potential absence of Hayward would be a big loss for the Hornets.

PASS and look to the spread.

Against the spread (ATS)
The RAPTORS -9.5 (+100) should be backed to win by at least 10 points. Toronto has the guards to match up well against Charlotte’s trio of Terry Rozier, Devonte’ Graham and LaMelo Ball, and the continued absence of Zeller will leave space for Raptors PF Pascal Siakam and C Cheap Chris Boucher Jersey in the paint.

Toronto is eighth in the NBA in steals and Charlotte is just 17th in turnover percentage. The Raptors commit more fouls than all but one team, but the Hornets rank just 25th in team free-throw percentage, so Toronto won’t be penalized as badly as it was late in the games against the Warriors and Blazers.

Over/Under (O/U)
The Raptors’ defense has been the most disappointing area of their game this season but a two-day rest and a tired opponent should see a more spirited effort, especially if Hayward needs to sit out. The Hornets are just 3-9 against the Over/Under and fall an average of 7.7 points per game below the line with 107 PPG scored and allowed.

The Raptors rely too heavily on 3-pointers and the Hornets are fourth in the league in 3-point defense.

Take the UNDER 219.5 (-110).

Want some action on this one? Place a bet at BetMGM now. For more sports betting picks and tips, visit SportsbookWire.com. Please gamble responsibly.

Also see:

James Borrego says it’s best for LaMelo Ball to come off the bench early in season (Lonzo Wire)
Art of the smokescreen: The thought process behind execs and agents leaking info (Hoops Hype)
Follow Esten McLaren on Twitter. Follow SportsbookWire on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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The Raptors lost two key pieces from last year; Cheap Serge Ibaka Jersey and Cheap Marc Gasol Jersey anchored their defense and Cheap Aron Baynes Jersey alone has not been able to replace their production. Nick Nurse had Toronto playing the second-best defense in the NBA in 2019-2020, but through 10 games this season they allow 113.6 points per 100 possessions, placing them in the 23rd percentile via Cleaning The Glass. Cheap OG Anunoby Jersey was a popular Most Improved Player candidate prior to the season, but his offensive skillset hasn’t taken “the leap” yet.

Toronto’s biggest issue this year has been the underwhelming play of Cheap Pascal Siakam Jersey. Coming off of a second-team all-NBA selection, Siakam is averaging 20.4 points per game on 31.0 percent from deep with one a 26.7 percent usage rate that lands him in the 94th percentile, per Cleaning The Glass. He’s only shooting 62 percent at the rim right now and his defensive impact metrics have gone down. It seems like the Raptors had a small margin of error after losing two important big men, and right now they’re just not cutting it. It’s hard to believe a team with Siakam and Cheap Kyle Lowry Jersey that’s coached by Nurse will be this bad for much longer, though.

The Raptors should be all set on the injury front; just Cheap Patrick McCaw Jersey (knee) will be out tonight.

The Hornets didn’t play bad defense yesterday, but their offense was horrible, though shots not falling was probably a big part of that. There has been one lasting problem for the Hornets’ offense in the early-going:

The Hornets’ offense has a tendency to stall out and turn into a grind, especially when Gordon Hayward isn’t playing well. Even with the new additions to the team and their improved ball movement (first in the NBA with a 73.8 assist percentage), they still don’t have enough shot-creation in the half-court to compete on a consistent basis. Devonte’ Graham and PJ Washington’s shooting struggles don’t help, but again, Hayward is the only high-level shot-creator on the roster and he can’t be—nor should he have to be—perfect every single night. This problem was evident earlier in the year, but it seems to have reared its head again last night.

Here are some positive vibes for you all; Hayward did leave the game early last night with a hip injury, but he made the trip to Tampa to play the team from Canada. Hayward (left hip strain) is probable for tonight’s game. Now, let’s take a collective sigh of relief.

What to expect out of this game is beyond me. Toronto has been bad, but they’re not actually bad, so maybe they right the ship tonight? It’s gotta happen eventually. If the Hornets can hit shots tonight and keep up the intensity on defense they should be able to win, but if Hayward doesn’t play the chances of that happening drop significantly.