Be sure to visit homestand.ca to purchase your tickets for the Hoop Talks Toronto Basketball Summit on March 28. Doug Smith, Sherman Hamilton, Paul Jones, Michael Grange, Eric Koreen, and Ashley Docking will be there. Will you?
By: Josh Weinstein
After a four-day hiatus, the Toronto Raptors hit the hardwood Wednesday night in Atlanta, Georgia for a matchup with the Eastern Conference bottom-dwelling Hawks. Considering the amount of rest the Raptors have had entering this game, they should have no problems using their fresh legs to blow right past the Hawks for an easy W.
Couple the Raptors rested roster with the team’s play so far against sub-.500 teams, and Wednesday’s win is all but a guarantee. So far in 2017-18, Toronto has won a whopping 18 of 20 games against teams with sub-.500 records, which ranks as the best win percentage against such teams in the NBA. Expect that dominance to continue, as Dwane Casey and his staff clearly have the roster wired to never underestimate their opposition and to take care of the games that, quite frankly, they’re supposed to.
Kyle Lowry just dropped 40 points in his last game and has started looking increasingly comfortable in the Raptors offence with every passing game. Lowry will have to work hard on the defensive end containing the Hawks’ Dennis Schroder, but should be able to take advantage of a bottom-five Atlanta defence on the other end. While 40 may be a bit too much to top, Lowry certainly has the right matchup in place to go off once again with an all-around strong performance.
As for the Hawks, given their season is already lost and the organization is now racing to the bottom of the standings, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give young players on the roster more opportunity to develop. With the trade deadline fast approaching, guys like Ersan Ilyasova and Kent Bazemore could be on the move. A young up-and-coming rookie like John Collins would certainly benefit and receive a starter’s workload if one or two roster moves are made. Only time will tell what the Hawks will do, but the clock continues to tick towards February 8.
Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM ET. Here are the projected starting lineups: