Mar 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks small forward Josh Smith (5) brings the ball past Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders (8) during the second half at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Bucks 98-90. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Atlanta Hawks (39-32) vs Toronto Raptors (26-44) – 3 keys to victory


Two teams heading in opposite directions face each other at the Air Canada Centre tonight.

The Atlanta Hawks are in Toronto looking to grab every win they can, in order to defer, for as long as humanly possible, facing the Miami juggernaut in the upcoming playoffs. The Toronto Raptors are trying to get a glimpse of what next year’s team might look like.

Mar 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks small forward Kyle Korver (26) shoots against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Bucks 98-90. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In other words, the Atlanta veterans will be facing the Toronto greenhorns, so don’t be surprised if the kids get carved up. In a “blinding flash of the obvious” move, the Raps recalled Quincy Acy from purgatoryBakersfield. Let’s hope he sees the floor – the Raps can use his energy.

Will the Raps defy the odds, and grab a win? That largely depends on how well they:

  • Get Terrence Ross involved in the offense. Kyle Lowry seems to have a blind spot for our rookie swingman, and seldom passes to him. Get over it, Kyle. Terrence needs to see the ball early in the game, and if his jumper is working, he can be a difference-maker. How about a few takes to the hoop, Terrence?
  • Close out on the Hawks’ 3-point shooters. Atlanta enjoys the skills of Kyle Korver, who does for them what Jason Kapono was supposed to do for the Raps a few seasons ago – get open outside the arc, and hit quick-release 3s. Jeff Teague, their rapidly-improving point guard, will also burn careless defenders. Don’t “cheat” on these two in particular, and we might survive.
  • Win the rebounding battle. The Hawks are not a big team, although their primary scorers, Josh Smith and Al Horford, can get it done on the boards. Amir Johnson is listed as starting tonight; hopefully he’s at full health, and will help Jonas Valanciunas box out Atlanta. Zaza Pachulia is injured, so that’s one fewer rebounding specialist to worry about.

The Raps were unlucky to lose by a point in Atlanta in January. I think this game will be tight for three quarters, but I have to give Atlanta’s motivated veterans the edge by a 97-94 count.

 

Brian Boake is a co-editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

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