Season Series: Raptors 1-1
After a disappointing loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday afternoon, the Toronto Raptors face off against the Atlanta Hawks in Atlanta on Tuesday night. While these teams have split a pair of games earlier this year, the Hawks were recently in free-fall mode, dropping 14 of 15 games prior to the four-game winning streak they bring into Tuesday’s game.
While the Raptors hold a three-game lead on the Brooklyn Nets at the top of the Atlantic Division, the Hawks are holding down the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with a four-game cushion on the ninth-place New York Knicks.
In Sunday’s loss to the Suns Kyle Lowry took two knees to the head in a loose-ball skirmish with P.J. Tucker. Lowry will be available for the Raptors against the Hawks as a result of clearing concussion tests administered by team doctors after the game.
What To Watch
The Raptors bench: After getting outscored 59-11 by Phoenix’s bench, Toronto’s reserves will need to show up ready to play against the Hawks. The Raptors released an update on Patrick Patterson on Tuesday, saying he will return to limited basketball activity over the next seven days with the use of a supporting brace. Without him, the team lacks a scoring punch off the bench. After Raptors head coach Dwane Casey pointed to the differential in bench scoring after Sunday’s loss, look for his reserves to respond against the Hawks.
Slowing Paul Millsap: While the Hawks have struggled since losing Al Horford to shoulder surgery, Paul Millsap has had a breakout season in Atlanta. Averaging almost 18 points and eight rebounds per game and 23 and eight in the last four.
Defensive showdown: During Atlanta’s recent streak, the Hawks have locked things down on the defensive end of the floor. Their last three opponents have averaged 90.7 points per game while shooting less than 40 percent from the field. With the exception of Sunday’s loss, where the high-scoring Suns hung 121 points on the Raptors, Toronto has been a much improved team defensively this season. Toronto will aim to show everything they do is predicated by their defensive effort.
– “I tend to watch every game. Especially in our conference because all the games are so close. It’s interesting watching all the teams. Every game means something, even a couple of teams fighting for the playoffs.” – DeMar DeRozan on watching the standings
– “It’s just time for me to understand that and use it against them. That’s the next step in understanding. To me it’s a challenge, too. Not everybody gets that type of attention on a nightly basis. It’s definitely fun for me. I go out there every single night and I know it’s going to be a challenge.” – DeRozan on the physical play he has faced from his defenders as of late
– “I’ve been to the point at this point in the season where we really weren’t playing for much. We were out of the playoffs so we were mainly playing for pride. I understand what that feels like and I don’t want any of my new teammates to go through that same feeling. Just trying to put them all together and understand that we’ve got to do this thing together and we can do something great for this city.” – DeRozan on how it feels to have games matter in March
– “This team is similar to Phoenix. They spread the floor, they rely on the three. They shoot 28 percent of their shots, are three point shots. We’ve got to make sure we close out to the three-point line and do it with a sense of urgency. Not just go out and, ‘I hope he misses, I hope he misses,’ no, you’re running out to make them run off the three-point line.” – Dwane Casey on how to defend the Hawks from deep
Raptors: Kyle Lowry (G), DeMar DeRozan (G), Terrence Ross (F), Amir Johnson (F), Jonas Valanciunas (C)
Raptors: Patrick Patterson – right ulnar collateral sprain (out)
Hawks: Gustavo Ayon – right shoulder surgery (out), Al Horford – right pectoral muscle surgery (out), John Jenkins – lower back surgery (out)
By The Numbers: Raptors vs. Hawks
|2013-14 AVERAGES||2013-14 RANKINGS|
Last Time They Met: Raptors 104, Hawks 83 - Feb. 12th, 2014