Toronto and Atlanta face-off in a rubber match that will wrap up the six game homestand. The first two contests this season were split. The Raptors enjoyed a 30 point blowout on Halloween. Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. missed the overtime rematch in November that Atlanta won at the buzzer. Some will remember Trae Young afterwards.
Hawks scope (20-22, 9th in East | Offensive rating: 21st | Defensive rating: 13th)
Toronto’s disappointing first half of the season has been much maligned but Atlanta is probably in more turmoil. The Hawks traded three first round picks and Danilo Gallinari for all-star Dejounte Murray, who has produced (20 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 6.1 apg) but it hasn’t moved the needle standings wise. Trae and Nate McMillan have had weird moments this season. A Shams Charania report two weeks ago floated the possibility of McMillan resigning, which has since been refuted by both McMillan and the Hawks CEO. John Collins has been in trade rumours for years, however the reported asking price by Atlanta has significantly decreased.
Despite the swirling mess, it was Collins that sealed a Hawks victory in Indiana last night. They arrive in Toronto for the second leg of a back to back.
Raptors scope (19-23, 10th in East | Offensive rating: 13th | Defensive rating: 16th)
Thanks to a Bulls loss against OKC last night, the Raptors slid into the final play-in spot on their day off. This game is particularly important for playoff positioning because the winner will hold the tiebreaker. Toronto’s offense has been humming as of late, averaging 29.3 assists during its season-high three game win streak. The starting five have all contributed, with everybody scoring in double figures twice in the three games. Precious Achiuwa is solidifying the bench, looking more like the Precious of last season since returning from injury. Nick Nurse seems to have settled on a 10-man rotation (and occasionally Thad Young as the 11th) that doesn’t have anybody playing 40 minutes.
The timing couldn’t be better because the Raptors will play 10 of their next 12 games on the road, including a seven game road trip at the end of the month. That could determine the direction Toronto goes for the rest of the season.
Unrelated to this team, Norm Powell made a splash earlier this week stating that his Clippers team is deeper than the Raptors 2019 championship squad. Currently the Clippers are .500, with seven losses in their last eight games.
Tip-Off: 7:30pm EST | TV: TSN 4/5/4K | Radio: TSN Radio 1050
Clint Capela (calf) doesn’t have a return timeline. Derrick Favors signed a 10-day contract on Wednesday.
PG: Trae Young, Aaron Holiday, Trent Forrest
SG: Dejounte Murray, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Vit Krejci
SF: DeAndre Hunter, AJ Griffin, Justin Holiday
PF: John Collins, Jalen Johnson
C: Onyeka Okongwu, Frank Kaminsky, Derrick Favors
Otto Porter Jr. (toe) is out for the season after surgery.
PG: Fred VanVleet, Malachi Flynn, Jeff Dowtin Jr.
SG: Gary Trent Jr.
SF: O.G. Anunoby, Juancho Hernangomez, Joe Wieskamp
PF: Scottie Barnes, Chris Boucher, Thaddeus Young
C: Pascal Siakam, Precious Achiuwa, Christian Koloko, Khem Birch
The Raptors are favoured by seven points, getting some extra love because of the winning streak and Atlanta playing a back to back. The Over/Under is 232.5.