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Raptors vs. Hawks: An Unfortunate Playoff Preview?

The Raps are in Atlanta tonight for a meeting with the Hawks. But could this be the first round matchup we have in store?

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

At first we didn't want to believe it. We denied the possibility. We resisted the very notion of the concept. The Raptors were sliding down the standings, the Wizards and Celtics rising up, and the Hawks, those beautifully boring birds in Atlanta remained perched in fifth place. These two teams -- the Raptors and the Hawks -- could meet in the first round of the playoffs. It's true.

How does one even write about the Hawks? What is this team's identity, what makes them interesting, why should we care? The Hawks are led by Paul Millsap, the no flair All-Star, and Dennis Schroder, who is trying really hard to breakthrough. They settled on the stink of Dwight Howard -- who strikes me as a pretty uncomfortable player to watch -- and then filled out the roster with.... dudes. Does anyone want to watch Tim Hardaway Jr. play (he gets the start in place of Thabo Sefolosha tonight)? How about Ersan Ilyasova? Bueller? I mean, come on.

The Raptors, even without Kyle Lowry (I have to bring that up every time I write), appear to have a stronger team. Can we argue they're more entertaining? Sure, why not. To be honest, they don't deserve to be stuck in a 4-5 grappling match with the dang Hawks, who people care about even less than the team from Toronto. So here's game three of the regular season between these two. DeMarre Carroll is back in the lineup. Let's watch it and then forget about it -- and pray for no more.

Check out my preview here. Then, get in the comments.