Do Raptors Go Small Against Hawks?

Probable Starters
TOR – Jose Calderon (G), Jerryd Bayless (G), DeMar DeRozan (G/F), James Johnson (F),  Amir Johnson (C).
ATL–
Jeff Teague (G), Joe Johnson (G), Marvin Williams (F), Josh Smith (F), Zaza Pachulia (C).

Key Injuries
TOR – Andrea Bargnani (left calf strain) – out, Leandro Barbosa (sore left ankle) – day-to-day
ATL
– Al Horford (torn left pectoral muscle) – out

The Raptors try and make it two wins in a row and four in five games tonight against the Hawks (7PM, Sportsnet One, FAN590, GET TICKETS) with some mixed news on the injury front.

According to head coach Dwane Casey, there’s no change on the status of Andrea Bargnani, who remains day-to-day and will not play tonight.

Leandro Barbosa on the other hand, might be close to returning. The high-scoring reserve guard did participate in shootaround on Tuesday and was listed as a game-time decision against the Hawks, as the Raptors want to see how his left ankle sprain reacts to the morning workout.

The Raptors have to prepare to win again without the services of either, just as the did on Sunday in New Jersey.

“It gives tremendous confidence, but at the same time we know that we’re not at our best,” said James Johnson of playing shorthanded. “We still have some things to work out without Andrea and once we accomplish that, I think we can beat any team.”

That mindset or “belief” as Casey has decribed it, was a large part of what gave the Raptors one of their bigger wins of the season, but another major key was starting the smaller lineup of Jose Calderon, Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson and Amir Johnson.

With fewer turnovers and increased ballhandling and speed in the starting lineup, the Raptors were able to convincingly put away the Nets. But heading into tonight’s game against a bigger Hawks lineup, do you change what worked so well in Newark or make the decision based on matchups?

Not surprisingly, Casey wasn’t tipping his hand post-shootaround, but suggested that using speed against the Hawks could be key.

“Atlanta’s a very good (defensive) team in the halfcourt setting and sometimes you can outrun them getting to the other end,” said Casey. “But once you get in the half court game their length and athleticism comes into play, so we want to definitely make sure we keep the pace up and have pace in the game.”

Get more updates leading up to game time on our Raptors Live page. Watch more video from James Johnson and Jerryd Bayless post-shootaround below.

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