I don’t know why, but if we played word association, the Atlanta Hawks would always be associated with Steve Smith for me. Thought I’d throw that out there. Steve Smith won’t be playing tonight, he’ll likely be in an NBA studio providing analysis rivaling a drunk John Madden.

On the Raptors side, good news abound! Well, as good as things can be seeing how Andrea Bargnani’s injured, Leandro Barbosa’s limping, and Solomon Alabi’s within 100 miles of the ACC. With the destruction of New Jersey behind them and a highly successful road trip completed, the Raptors should have far more confidence facing the Hawks at home than what one might have though heading into the roadtrip. What is the rate of the Raptors success this season? They currently have 7 wins, which puts them on pace for 22, that’s around four more than most had predicted around these parts. If Bargnani would’ve been around during the losing, maybe that number would even be higher. So, yeah, progress is being made despite some very ugly nights.

The absence of Bargnani might hurt the team in the win/loss column, but maybe it could provide an opportunity for DeRozan to kickstart his scoring, like he did with 27 against the Nets. And honestly, if the outcome of this season is the Raptors identifying two “studs” to take into next season, all is well. Mind you, DeRozan has ground to cover before he can be spoken in terms of a legit piece, just look at his dip in production this season, his third which most consider to be the make-or-break kind for a guard getting heavy minutes:

Season PER TS% eFG% TRB% AST% STL% USG% ORtg DRtg WS/48
2009-10 12.5 .554 .502 7.9 4.9 1.3 18.1 110 115 .066
2010-11 14.4 .530 .469 6.5 8.6 1.5 23.1 106 114 .056
2011-12 10.6 .468 .408 6.2 8.4 1.7 24.9 90 105 .008
Career 13.3 .527 .469 6.9 7.4 1.5 21.8 105 113 .053

Damn. Haven’t seen numbers fall like that since Herman Cain talked about Libya. To be fair, he hasn’t let his offensive struggles render him entirely useless. It’s hard to find positives in a defensive game which has regressed by a full 11 DRTG points, and it’s with even greater difficulty that one can spot offensive growth (no matter what you think of PER as a stat, DeRozan’s dip this year is plain ugly). Despite all his issues the effort level has been consistent, this is probably owing to the coach and also his inner, shall we say, pride?

As the Raptors try to find themselves without Bargnani, they’ll rely more on DeRozan to create disruption in defenses, and right now (despite a higher usage rate) he hasn’t been able to do that. Tonight he’s up against Joe Johnson, the player he should look to emulate and has completely owned him so far in his short career. A great performance tonight could signal the return of DeRozan and the Raptors’ potential two-pronged (going on three with Jonas) attack on 2012-13.

The injury news has Barbosa returning, and I’m thinking that Casey, given Atlanta’s size, isn’t going to try his luck with Bayless at the two again. Jeff Teague had a massive game for them against the Hornets (24 points on 9-11). The Hawk lineup is as it has been for seemingly years now (Johnson, Williams, Smith), with the main exception being Al Horford, who’s out long-term with injury (causing chaos for my fantasy team, as well). Zaza Pachula will get the start against Amir Johnson, which is going to be painful to watch. Johnson was holding his own against bigs early in the season, and as expected, has worn down significantly. The last time he had a 10-rebound game was against these Hawks on January 16th. Let’s hope this marks his return as well. The Hawks are looking to end a 5-game road trip at 4-1, while the Raptors have a quick stop at home before visiting Boston (Already again? Shit).

Speaking of Johnson wearing down at center, it speaks to the confidence Casey has in Alabi that a relatively highly touted prospect can’t even get off the bench when the starting center is injured. Trying to think the last time a Raptors second round pick came even close to panning out. P.J Tucker?

The game marks another return for Tracy McGrady, and I sure hope the boo-birds remain quiet because that would just be ridiculous beyond belief. It’s like booing your high-school teacher for giving you a C on a paper 15 years later when you see him in a line at Loblaws. Get over it.

Enjoy the game. Playoffs here we….naah. Lottery, lottery it is. And trade that high pick too, enough youth on this team already. Create a package for Deron Williams, that would be sweet.

  • Puffer

    ¬†And trade that high pick too, enough youth on this team already. Create a package for Deron Williams, that would be sweet.”

  • Nilanka15

    When I think of the Hawks, Mookie Blaylock comes to mind ūüėź

    • 2damkule

      when i think of mookie blaylock, eddie vedder comes to mind…

    • Copywryter

      ‘Nique and Spud Webb for me.¬†

  • Feas

    DeMar dropping his DRtg 9 points is actually a good thing…a lower DRtg means you’re allowing less points per 100 possessions.¬†

  • Ppellico

    Always felt that this season forced the fans to watch street basketball and guessed perhaps mid way would see the real team play.THIS season with its schedule and new combination of players and coach was a recipe for easy kill.
    It was a planned ambush!

    Now, I never expected Bargs to go down…but still…the season was going to be ugly to watch¬†
    They are starting to play better…even without solid practice times due to really unfair schedualing by the NBA.
    Many teams they played had all the time for practice due to NO road games.
    They even had most players and staff left from the season prior.
    I say we are getting there.


    I don’t care what is the system or who is coaching. Missed shots kill everything and everybody. They were hitting last time.
    Everybody and every coach move looks good when the shooters are hitting shots.
    The shooting percent¬†will tell if the player combinations look like Casey is smart…if they miss shots, he is wrong.
    If they make shots, he is smart.


    • 2damkule

      mo shats

  • RPT23

    When I think of the Atlanta Hawks, the first name that comes to my mind is Jon Koncak.


      Plastic Man

  • guest

    Dominique put the hawks on the map

    • maman

      Never heard of a guy called Pettit right?

  • nottheendoftheworld

    Kevin ‘kangaroo arms’ Willis. Proto-hawk.

  • RRFan

    I’d rather take the W in Boston tomorrow night over tonight’s game. I want to see these Raps just annihilate the C****** for once.

  • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

    We most likely won’t see a Jose/Bayless starting¬†backcourt tonite with the tall Hawks in the TDot. As well Kirk Hinrich is back in the Hawks active rotation (3 games) to back up pg Teague.

    This is the type of game that the Raptors seem to lose alot- 1st game home after a road trip, but they have been playing well in their previous 5 games (3-2).

    A Raptors W wouldn’t surprise me but I won’t fall for the fool’s gold road trip and see the Hawks getting a 10 point W on their final game of their 5 game (3-1)¬†road trip.


    Raptors need to trade this year’s draft pick in a package for some proven quality healthy veteran talent no more rookies…..unless it’s Tony Wroten Jr……

    • sleepz

      Lol, Wroten is nice. Was able to catch the Ari-Wash game on Saturday.

      One concern I have is what position would he be projected to play in the league? He plays a lot of 2 right now, and not to say that can’t change as we have seen transitional players like R. Westbrook but I would like it if they let him run the point more. His court vision is that of a 1.

      If the Raps end up looking for a¬†pg or a good shot creator¬†then I would take Wroten and hope he projets out cuz he has the skill and ability to do so, but if they want a typical 2 and a liquid scorer…..J.Lamb baby! lol

      • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

        He had the game saving block against AZ showing that he plays on both ends of the court- a complete player that at only 18 years of age is only going to get better with time.

        He can play the point but is playing mostly the SG at the UW because former McDonalds All American pg Abdul Gaddy (number #2 pg in HS behind JWall) is a 3 year Husky starter but either one brings the ball up court and runs the offense with the other playing off of the ball.

        But make no mistake about it TWroten Jr is a pg who has the size 6.6 1/2 in shoes can play either backcourt position and has enough size whereas you can start and/or play a smaller sg beside him ala Iverson/Gordon/Barea as he has the ability to guard sgs ala Eric Snow.

        TWJr can penetrate, create and get to the rim seemingly at will- think a rookie DD except with top level court vision, dribbling & passing ability as a pg guard.

        I want either Mike Kidd-Gilchrist or Tony Wroten Jr if the Raptors keep their 2012 1st round draft pick but come draft day I can see both going top 5 if they declare and I don’t see the Rap’s getting a top 5 pick more likely a top 10 selection after the Lottery draw¬†process- time will tell.

  • 2damkule

    wtf is up with the idea of trading what could be a top-5 pick in a loaded draft for ‘real’ veteran talent?¬† haven’t we been down that road before?¬† even if you do swing a deal for a guy like dero, he’d actually have to want to play in TO in order for it to happen.¬† and if you were him…would you, when there are going to be other options available to him?¬† same goes for any established vet.

    there isn’t much of a positive history in the NBA of teams trading high lotto picks for vets, is there?¬† well, not for the team acquiring those vets, anyway…or perhaps we just remember the deals in which a draft pick was traded for a player, and the pick turns into dirk, and the player is tractor fucking taylor (RIP).¬† perhaps that’s a bad example, since dirk was a pick in the teens (though it was a different era, int’l scouting wasn’t what it is now, and prospects like dirk are routinely selected much higher now than they were then), but the principle is the same…i can’t think of an example of a top-3 or top-5 pick being traded for an established vet in which the deal worked out better for the team acquiring the vet than it did for the team acquiring the pick…anyone?¬† anyone?

    • Nilanka15

      What if we trade down in the draft?  We give up Chris Webber, and draft Penny Hardaway.

      • 2damkule

        the concept is feasible, but the returns tend to be mixed.¬† it’s a loaded draft, so for the most part, teams likely figure that even if ‘their’ guy is off the board when it comes time to pick, there will be someone of value.

        usually, you have to be dealing with a team that’s quite removed from the upper tier of the lottery…like moving the 4th pick for the 12th pick & a prospect/$/future pick (2nd rounder).

    • sleepz

      Jonathan Bender for Antonio Davis

    • mountio

      The KG trade is the most obvious one that jumps out at me .. but I realize that was a different cirucmstance and had many moving parts ..

      • mountio

        But .. more to the point .. there is NO WAY in hell we should even consider this. We are not Boston, LA, Chicago, NY. We are Oklahoma City, San Antonio (the clips to a lesser extent). Draft is the only way to go for Toronto in the NBA, like it or lump it ..

  • Nilanka15

    DeRozan, time to step up.¬† A marquee SG is entering your building.¬† If you’re for real, you’ll take this opportunity to make Johnson work on the defensive end by running hard off screenings, going to the hole hard, and not settling for long, contested jumpers.¬†

    At the same time, chase Johnson around like you’re his shadow.¬† Don’t give him space to launch his shot.¬† Crowd him, and make him put the ball on the floor.¬† And if you ever think about leaving Johnson open to help on dribble penetration, DON’T!¬† Get a hand up on every attempt, and make Johnson work hard for his points.

    Win the matchup against Johnson and Allen over the next two games, and the league may start to take notice (again).

  • Roarque

    I like the idea of starting the 2nd unit for Atlanta – Gray/Davis/Bayless/Forbes and whoever if Barbosa is still stiff – Butler if you will.¬†Based on the poor showings in Q1 from the first unit, what have we got to lose? Amir/DeMar/Jose/Silky can sit, watch and learn so they’re ready in Q2.

    If this truly¬†is Dwane’s honeymoon then why not let him have some innovative fun?

    • CJT

      Interesting how you made it seem like your never coached a day in you life idea was really Casey’s new innovative and fun idea.¬†

  • Ska

    When I think of the Atlanta Hawks I always look at my watch