The No. 11 seed Toronto Raptors will play host to the No. 4 seed Atlanta Hawks in Amalie Arena on Tuesday evening, hoping to steal one win from a Hawks team that has gone 2-0 against the Raptors this season, including a buzzer-beating Tony Snell three the last time these two teams played.
The Hawks enter the contest 6-1 over their last seven games, but they could be without one or more of their key players with Trae Young (calf), Tony Snell (ankle), and Danilo Gallinari (foot) all day-to-day with nagging injuries.
However, the Hawks can rely on combo guard Bogdan Bogdanovich, who has been playing his best basketball in a Hawks jersey as of late, scoring 32-points in the Hawk’s shorthanded win over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday.
Bogdan Bogdanovic last 8 games:
The Hawks have outscored opponents by 70 points when Bogi is on the floor in that span. pic.twitter.com/botRc1yACn
— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 11, 2021
The most interesting matchup to me, though, involves Young, assuming he will play.
Young has been an absolute menace against the Raptors this season, consistently getting past his primary defender to penetrate the defence and kick out for open threes and/or using a screen to either get to his floater or find his big man rolling for the lob pass. Even when Fred VanVleet was healthy, the Raptors struggled to contain Young on the perimeter. To be fair, very few teams can. Young is one of the quickest and shiftiest guards in the league when he gets downhill, and his combination of shot-making and passing vision makes him very hard to stop.
But if the Raptors have one guy in the lineup who might be capable of making Young’s life hard, it’s rookie point guard Malachi Flynn. Flynn has been a menace on defence all season, with the foot speed to stay in front of guards and the shiftiness to get over picks and contest ball-handlers from behind, often stripping the ball away from them and creating fast-break opportunities.
Young will be the ultimate test for Flynn’s defence. I’ll be curious to see how consistently Flynn can stay in front of Young as he tries to penetrate into the teeth of the defence. I’ll also be watching to see how well Flynn can maneuver around Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu screens to stay on Young’s hip without fouling, allowing the big (Khem Birch, Chris Boucher, Freddie Gillespie) to focus on his man rolling to the rim instead of trying to stop Young and a big on a 2-on-1, a hard situation for even the best pick-and-roll bigs in the league to defend.
If Young is sidelined, I’d expect Flynn to see some time on Bogdanovich, and the same can be said about that matchup and those pick-and-rolls. In fact, the Hawks rely a lot on pick-and-roll to initiate their offence, so Flynn will have a big task regardless of if Young plays or not. So will the Raptors’ big men, who will have to contain bigs like Capela and Okongwu on the roll and on the boards while also getting out to contest the Hawks’ three-point shooters.
It will also be interesting to see how the Raptors gel with Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam presumably all healthy for the first time in a long time, while also trying to fit in new pieces such as Khem Birch, Freddie Gillespie, and Rodney Hood.
Tipoff: 7:30 pm EST | TV: TSN | Radio: Sportsnet 590
Fred VanVleet (hip), Jalen Harris (hip), and Paul Watson (health and safety protocol) are out.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Malachi Flynn
SG: Gary Trent Jr., DeAndre’ Bembry
SF: OG Anunoby, Stanley Johnson, Rodney Hood
PF: Pascal Siakam, Yuta Watanabe
C: Chris Boucher, Khem Birch, Freddie Gillespie, Aron Baynes
Trae Young (calf), Tony Snell (ankle), and Danilo Gallinari (foot) are all day-to-day. Kris Dunn (ankle), De’Andre Hunter (knee), and John Collins (ankle) are out.
PG: Brandon Goodwin
SG: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Lou Williams
SF: Kevin Huerter
PF: Solomon Hill
C: Clint Capela, Onyeka Okongwu, Nathan Knight, Bruno Fernando
The Hawks are -2.5 favourites to win.
The over/under is 225.5