Gameday: Raptors @ Hawks, Feb. 6

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23 Apr 1999: Steve Smith #8 of the Atlanta Hawks runs with the ball during the game against the Washington Wizards at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C. The Hawks defeated the Wizards 89-78. Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport

The Raptors resurgence has seen them tie the Hawks in the standings at 10-12 – the Raptors are a place behind the Hawks at 8th, and a win tonight jumps them a spot.

The Hawks have lost three in a row to the Lakers, Mavericks and Jazz, and none of the games have been close. The Raptors are favored by six despite being on a back-to-back and playing away. The main thing from Hawks side for me here is to watch Clint Capela, as he’s one of the names being dropped in a potential big man upgrade. He’s averaging 13.2 points and 14.5 rebounds which leads the league. He followed up his 8-11 for 16 points against the Lakers with two offensive duds. Other than him, John Collins and Trae Young are a fun combo to watch, and they’ll be up against Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet/Kyle Lowry, respectively.

Young is averaging 26.6 points and 9 assists on the season and will likely see time directly against Fred VanVleet, who despite struggling last night hit a massive three to ice things.

VanVleet’s man-defense which has been consistently good all season will get a test, but expect Chris Boucher and Aron Baynes to be active in help situations as Young is bound to get to the paint.

The Raptors season appears to have turned the corner with the return of Norm Powell’s consistency, Kyle Lowry scoring, Aron Baynes reliability and finally, Pascal Siakam’s determination to attack instead of settling for long-distance jumpers. It’s a convergence of a multitude of factors that seems to have sharpened the Raptors point of attack. The defense still needs work as the Raptors do give up high field goal percentages against most teams, but at least they’re not getting into scoring droughts into the fourth that stifle any hopes of pulling through tight games, of which they’ve lost plenty.

We’ll have Samson’s pod right after the game along with the live show with Sahal and Oren – sub our YouTube for that.

The game is 8pm on TSN1 and TSN3. See you right after it.


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