Unlike the Raptors, we continue to work hard at RR and bring the goods. The good news is that AltRaps’ and Arsenalists prediction for a 3-1 week is still alive. The bad news is that all three have to come on the road starting tonight in Atlanta. After losing Sunday to a Pistons team without Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, we can expect this team to want to rebound. You will all be in my thoughts tonight as this one is going to get messy, I can guarantee you that.
The last time these guys played, it didn’t go so well, with the Hawks taking down a 118-110 decision. There was some playoff seeding on the line in that game, as the Hawks had a couple game lead over the Bulls for the 4th seed, but the Raptors had already thrown in the towel, even if Marion hadn’t.
The Point: Calderon and Jack are both coming off of good games last night, Calderon more so than Jack. Triano needs to manage these two better today…if Calderon is hot, ride the wave man, don’t be afraid. What happened last night was terrible. We have to make sure that if Calderon is hot, that we use that, and not take the ball out of his hand. On the flip side, Jack needs to know his role, and not try to take the game over. He hit some big shots last night, but we have a lot of guys who are better scorers (better shooters) than he is, and they need to be utilized for these types of roles. Bibby has always hurt the Raptors, and I don’t see that changing much. If Calderon/Jack leave him open, he will take and hit that three. Triano needs to NOT play them together as the thought of these two playing defense on a combination of Bibby/Crawford/Johnson makes the Pad Thai I had for lunch make some noise in my stomach.
The Edge: Atlanta
The Talent: Johnson is going to murder DeRozan/Belinelli/Wright/Jack/whoever covers him. I don’t see any ways around this one. Hopefully Jack will not be assigned even a minute of duty covering this guy. Crawford is the other Raptor killer on this team. How many times have we seen him drop 50 on us? Again, he wont have much trouble slicing and dicing.
The Edge: Atlanta
The Wing: Turkoglu is continually being under/incorrectly utilized. His usage rate is at 18.9%; to put it in perspective, he was at 23% and 24.8% the last two seasons in Orlando. Figure he is getting between 4-6 less touches a game, as well he is being used to do the wrong types of things (should be a playmaker for others, not told to get his own shot off), and we have ourselves a problem. To put this in perspective, Jack is being utilized at 17.3%….yeah. I like this match-up with Marvin Williams for Turk, he wont get abused on defense, and should be able to do what he wants on offense.
The Edge: Raptors
The Big: Bosh vs Smith, I love this match-up. The PF battle will be crucial off the bench with Amir “put me in coach” Johnson battling Joe “I’m still kickin around” Smith on both ends. It’s amazing Joe Smith is playing, and at such a high level. A true pro, and a great pick up for the Hawks IMHO.
The Edge: Even
The Strong: I don’t have any problems with Bargnani right now. He’s doing about what I expected. Sure, I could use some more rebounding and better rotational defense, but f*ck it, the system sucks. Horford does represent some big problems for Bargs though. This guy is relentless on the boards, and lives in the paint. Leave him alone 15ft out, and he can knock those down. Bargs needs to box this guy out, job # 1. I don’t even care if he doesn’t score a lick, keep this guy off the board and in foul trouble, and this game is ours, simple.
The Edge: Atlanta
The Hawks are a 9 point favourite with an over/under of 211.5
AltRaps predicts a win. Arsenalist predicts a win. Who am I to disagree? I’m a realist, that’s who I am. Raptors lose, sorry guys.