Pre-Game

Gameday: Raptors @ Hawks, Feb. 7

It’s the time of year where mundane early February games can’t hope to contend with the rampant trade market. The Raptors engine of the past 7 years (Lowry) is mired in trade talks for Pete’s sake, if the SuperBowl couldn’t overshadow the NBA drama in Atlanta, the Raptors-Hawks game likely won’t. So for posterity, I’ll link to some of the stuff RR has put up so far. Also, if you’re looking to binge on updates and rumours today, the incredibly clever homie, Louis Zatzman will be doing Raptors-adjace news all day. I’m sure you’ll all sort yourselves out in the comment section regardless of what I say.

Good team vs. bad team, a tale as old as time. The 39-16 Raptors face-off against the 18-35 Hawks, who will emerge champion? Ideally and realistically it should be the Raptors coming out on top in this one. Even though the Raptors have had a bit of trouble dispensing with their closest competitors (Celtics, Bucks), it shouldn’t be too much of an ask for them to take care of the Hawks.

This game could be plenty of fun, though. The Hawks play the Association’s fastest brand of basketball, and watching John Collins catch lobs is a pleasure even when he’s doing it on your team. Taurean Prince and Kevin Huerter a quality wing duo, and Jeremy Lin has a soft spot in my heart – gotta love a pick n’ roll maestro. Oh yes, and hopefully a lot of absurd Trae Young pull-ups.

Despite the quality of Prince/Huerter, there should be a clear advantage for the Raptors in this one. Kawhi Leonard remains one of the league’s top-7 players and with no one particularly menacing waiting at the rim, look for him to spend a lot of the game headed toward the bucket. Especially once you consider how often he was rewarded with free throws against the 76ers (17 attempts), he’ll likely look to grab more easy points.

Collins/Pascal Siakam is far and away the best matchup in this game as the two athletic bigs battle it out. Collins is particularly impressive vertically, and Siakam, horizontally. Collins skies for outrageous lobs, bringing down sky-scraping dunks. Siakam runs the floor like a world class sprinter, seemingly bending 94-feet into 16. Look forward to those two trying to get the better of each other, Siakam a top candidate for MIP and Collins, one of the league’s brightest young stars.

Similar to the game against the 76ers, the Raptors will have to dedicate a good deal of effort to the defensive glass. Collins nabs nearly 4 offensive boards a game, and the Hawks are one of the league’s best at putting pressure on the offensive glass. Jonas Valanciunas’ return seems to be on the horizon and that could be extremely helpful as far as the defensive glass is concerned.

If all goes right, this would be the Raptors first fully-healthy game in nearly two months. There’s always the chance that Lowry gets traded, or something wild happens on deadline day, but it looks as if the Raptors are marching into the playoffs with this rendition of the team. It’ll be refreshing or sobering to get a look at the full squad once more, I’m thinking refreshing.

Cold-ish Take

Valanciunas will put up a double-double and the Raptors will win by double-digits. Correlation/Causation arguments will wreak havoc in the comments in the aftermath of an uneventful Raptors deadline day, and the website will burn to the ground.

Game Info

TV: TSN | Radio: TheFan590 | Tipoff: 7:30 EST

Raptors Updates

Jonas Valanciunas (thumb) might make his return to the Raptors today.

PG: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright

SG: Danny Green, Norman Powell, CJ Miles

SF: Kawhi Leonard, OG Anunoby, Patrick McCaw

PF: Pascal Siakam

C: Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas, Greg Monroe

Hawks Updates

Miles Plumlee (knee) is out indefinitely.

PG: Trae Young, Jeremy Lin

SG: Deandre Bembry, Kent Bazemore, Daniel Hamilton

SF: Taurean Prince, Kevin Huerter, Vince Carter, Justin Hamilton

PF: John Collins, Omari Spellman

C: Dewayne Dedmon, Alex Len

Keep in mind, deadline day could make all of this highly inaccurate, so we’ll see.

Have a blessed day.

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