Preview: Toronto Raptors (32-48) vs Atlanta Hawks (44-36) – 3 keys to victory

For their final road game of the season, the Toronto Raptors visit Atlanta’s Philips Arena hoping to grab a win after 2 defeats to the Hawks. Atlanta is comfortably ensconced in the playoffs, but would like to stay ahead of the Chicago Bulls and retain the # seed. That way, the Hawks will face the Brooklyn Nets rather than the exceedingly hot Knicks.

Apr 12, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Milwaukee Bucks small forward Ersan Ilyasova (7) drives to the basket past Atlanta Hawks small forward Kyle Korver (26) during the first half at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Raps are motivated by pride these days. They must feel queasy when they look at the standings and realize that Milwaukee is capsizing. Had Toronto played at all well, they would have bumped the Bucks aside and made the playoffs.

The Hawks are a solid team, with a number of offensive weapons. The Raps, however, are riding a 3-game win streak against playoff team. They could make it four if they:

  1. Know where Kyle Korver is every second he’s on the floor. Korver, who looks like a backup singer for the Beach Boys, averages well over 2.5 made 3-balls per game. He’s a specialist, meaning he doesn’t have a lot to offer other than long shots.but then Roger Maris batted .267 the season he hit 61 homers. In other words, there’s room at the circus for one-trick ponies.
  2. Contain Al Horford. This guy can kill us inside, particularly in the enforced absence of Jonas Valanciunas. The best chance of minimizing the damage would be to run right at him on offense (DeMar DeRozan, this means you) in hopes of getting him in foul difficulty. 
  3. Make some 3-balls of our own. Rudy Gay and DeMar (yay! finally) are showing signs of rediscovering their outside strokes. Kyle Lowry, though, has been dismal lately, which is particularly disappointing given how well he’s been passing and defending. Alan Anderson has also forgotten how to shoot. Terrence Ross is a game-time decision. He can score on the indifferent Atlanta defense.

Apr 14, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Brooklyn Nets forward Kris Humphries (43) battles for the ball against Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (3) at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Nets 93-87. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawks can be beaten. Their offense often sputters, even with proven scorers like Joe Johnson on hand. I think the Raps can sneak up on these guys like they did twice with Chicago, and against Brooklyn. The Raps continue their late-season resurgence with a 96-94 win.

Brian Boake is Senior 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.

Topics: Atlanta Hawks, Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

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