ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 18: Pero Antic #6 of the Atlanta Hawks defends against Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the Toronto Raptors at Philips Arena on March 18, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Pardon the lame pre-game, but it’s Persian new years, and between lunch here and dinner there…I’m so full I need Oliver Miller’s couch-guy to roll me into typing position.

The Raptors play the Hawks for the second time in a week, and after that devestating loss to the Thunder on Friday where folks were clearing out their fridges and pantries out of aimless spite, the Raptors have a real chance at falling victim to a lesser team in the Hawks, again, if they don’t focus and get back to playing with purpose.

The reality of this recent “lack of focus” is that if they hadn’t lost to the Hawks earlier this week, the loss to the Thunder wouldn’t have been so alarming. It was a perfect storm of many things, that had they just did one right, they would be 7-3 in their last 10 and we’d just be annoyed at Durant’s 51 (??? bad grammar, I know…don’t care). Say what you want about the collapse, but the Thunder are championship contenders, and as we all know, it takes a little luck to be great.

So with that in mind, the Raptors just need to play their game, and make the following adjustments (not even all of them, just pick a couple) from Wednesday’s loss:

  • Control the defensive boards; without Horford, the Hawks are gawdawful at rebounding, much less offensive rebounding. We saw good things happen the last time out when the Raptors controlled the glass and hit the outlet. A defensive rebound will usually result in some sort of helter skelter result in transition, which could lead to a highlight reel dunk for Ross, and perpetuate the T-Mac and Paul George comparisons to flourish
  • The rotation needs to be crisp and tight; with Patterson out, Ross and JV day-to-day (expected to play), and Fields the most hated man on the team, Casey needs to be creative, and not sit the Raptors core wings (Lowry, DeRozan, and Ross) long enough for the Hawks bench to figure things out enough to lunge and attack
  • Speaking of Patterson; isn’t there a shot or pill he can take to get back on the court? I can’t remember the last time we’ve held our breath for so long for a 6th man to get back into the mix
  • More layups than jumpers; the Hawks have no one to defend the paint and protect the rim with Horford resting his boobs. DeRozan mostly, but everyone on the wing should be looking to slash and attack more then pulling up for 18 footers
  • Stupid fouls; this one’s for Jonas. One of the advantages the Raptors need to exploit is in the front court, which means defense needs to be played with footwork and positioning and not hands, which means anticipation and scouting and not falling for weak pump fakes…you get the picture. Your recent run has been a nice surprise, let’s keep that momentum going
  • Know who the real threat is; sure Millsap put up a triple-double, but without Teague, Millsap is playing Shareef Abdur-Rahim and collecting checks (not discounting Millsap’s performance, but the dude took 16 shots to total 19 points)

It looks like even the gamblers realize the Raptors will be looking for blood after the Thunder game, and have them down as 6.5 point favourites; I’d be surprised if it’s that close.

  • GoingBig

    Patterson – he not just a 6th man, he brings the bench
    We traded Rudy for a bench but it does not contribute in a superior fashion without him – aside from general Vasquez

    • Jerry Garcia

      If we go by a bit of recent history viewpoint there have been Solomon and Hayes moments of rapture….just not lately…I think both will contribute in our playoff run. These guys are on my team

      • Milesboyer

        Will Solomon is back on the team? Makes sense, we need another point guard.

        • Jerry Garcia

          Yes……they brought him in and then disguised him as Salmons….

    • asifyouknow

      Wow more bench bashing…Don’t take this personal but sometimes things have to be said front and center and to the point:
      Before ALL FOUR bench players got there Toronto was a loser, after they arrived they became a winner.
      Period, there is no argument there…
      Is that a true statement?
      Don’t answer that is just a rhetorical question……

  • Quest

    plz win dis raps

  • Roarque

    We had some tasty salmon fillets for dinner tonight.

  • FREEJV

    If salmons steps on the court expect him to get booed lmao that would be funny as hell booing a bench player.

    • ac1011990

      It would be stupid as hell if he gets booed. He didn’t miss on purpose, really hope he doesn’t get booed, that would be pretty stupid on the fans part if he does.

      • FREEJV

        still would be funny

    • j bean

      Salmons isn’t in the same category as the guys who are booed. Maybe if he consistently brings his B game during the playoffs or if he says the wrong things, the hair trigger boo-birds will let him know how they feel.

    • JCREX

      nah as much as i was pissed off at salmons and casey people make mistakes, i just hope they dont repeat this in the playoffs

    • bobmasa

      He deserve to be booed and we gonna boo him becouse he has done nothing since he join Raptors and we lost some games because of him, this is the only way Dwen Casey will understand.

  • Milesboyer

    Here’s something I don’t get – your in game chat banner says TOR vs. ATL tonight at 1pm. Now since when was 1pm at night? Every time there is an afternoon game the announcers also say “it’s been a tough game tonight or they’re playing well tonight” even though it’s the middle of the afternoon! Is this just a habit because most games are at night? It bugs me. Maybe I’m still irked about Saturday’s loss.

    • Eunys

      You mean Friday loss? It bugs me when people confuse dates of the week lol

      • Milesboyer

        you got me eunice

  • asifyouknow

    Look at Casey’s Saturday post practice interview: Full of excuses…..One great question..

    Have you ever coached a game where you give up a lay up in that situation rather than giving them a three…He sounded confused when he answered…lol Maybe he did not think of it…lol

    Here is the link: http://www.nba.com/raptors/video/2014/03/22/NBAWEB140322CASEYflv-3209136