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Raptors vs. Hawks: Two teams meet again and DeMarre Carroll is active

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The Raptors have five games left and it doesn't really matter. The playoffs beckon, even all the way from Atlanta.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Good lord the NBA season certainly feels long when your favourite team is waiting for the playoffs to start. The Raptors have good reason to match our anxiety. Toronto is locked into second place in the Eastern Conference (which is a real boon given the struggle for third right now) but have yet to advance past the first round in 15 years. Yes, yes, we know all this already.

The Hawks were once like the Raptors. They too could make the playoffs but were never seen as a credible thread, and could never quite get very far. For three straight years they were knocked out in the first round, before last year's epiphany. The Hawks tromped all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, with a 60-win season behind them. While they were never much of a threat to the Cavaliers, that means something.

The Raptors are looking for the season-sweep of these Hawks. Atlanta isn't quite as good as they were last year, but they're still a force to be reckoned with, and they still might snag the 3-seed. And as we all know now, the regular season doesn't really mean anything. Even if franchise records are broken. Even if we really, really want it to go our way.

Two teams meet tonight in Atlanta on a similar plane of existence. One key difference? DeMarre Carroll is now on the Raptors, after having left that 60-win Hawks team. And, hmm, what's this?

It's the Raptors and the Hawks. Let's get into the comments.

Oh yeah, and read up on the delightful stuff Dan Grant had to say here in our preview.