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Raptors visit Hawks for some afternoon basketball: Preview, start time, and more

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The Raptors are in Atlanta this afternoon looking to extend their win streak to four versus the Hawks — and gain a little ground on the two-seed.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Atlanta Hawks Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors’ offense has been lighting up the score sheet the last few games and they’ll get another opportunity on Monday night to continue the hot streak. This afternoon — yes, starting at 2:30pm — the Raptors will be tipping off against the Atlanta Hawks.

Over the last three games, with their whole squad healthy, the Raptors have averaged 130.6 points per game, and hit the 100-point mark in five straight contests. If there was ever an opportunity for the Raptors’ scoring to continue at the pace they’ve had this past week, it would be a good bet to happen against the team currently ranked 27th in defensive rating. The Hawks are trying, but they’re still having trouble actually stopping their opponents.

The only bright spot to watch for when speaking of the Hawks is their point guard Trae Young. However, with their recent trade of Allen Crabbe to Minnesota for Jeff Teague (his second stint with the Hawks) and Treveon Graham, the Raptors will get a first-hand look at these new look Hawks, such as they are.

At 10-33, the Hawks after this trade probably aren’t any better than they were before, but at least it will be fun to watch Young and potentially see Vince Carter against the Raptors.

This will be the first of two meetings between the Raptors and Hawks, who will meet again in eight days time back in Toronto.

Here are the details for today’s matchup:

Where to Watch:

Sportsnet, 2:30 p.m. ET

Lineups:

Toronto – Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol

Atlanta – Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins

Injuries:

Toronto – Dewan Hernandez (Ankle – Out)

Atlanta – Chandler Parsons (Concussion – Out), Alex Len (Back – Questionable), Jabari Parker (Shoulder – Out)

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Trae Show

With the addition of Teague, the Hawks’ offense has a little bit more of a scoring presence — and potentially a steadying hand — in the backcourt. Even so, Atlanta’s offense is going to be Trae Young. The 21-year-old has scored 30-plus points in four of the Hawks last seven games and he has six games of 40-points or more.

Young had 30-points, 10-rebounds and 10 assists on Nov. 23 in 41 minutes versus the Raptors, a game Toronto was only able to pullout by three because of his relentless shooting. It’s going to take a lot of different looks defensively on Young for the Raptors with Lowry, VanVleet and Anunoby as options. Shutting Young down is shutting down the only real offense the Hawks have.

Absolute Health

It will be the second consecutive game the Raptors have their entire lineup healthy and ready to play regular minutes — I just wanted to say that, it feels nice.

Fred VanVleet didn’t miss a step in his return versus Minnesota scoring 29-points and shooting 7-for-8 from three. I also wanted to say that, which feels doubly nice.

Now, it may still take some time to ease everyone back into their roles and for coach Nick Nurse to figure out the rotation he wants at full health. It just doesn’t get better than this for the Raptors with a relatively easy schedule the next month-or-so. They play the Sixers and Pacers over the next month or so, but also a veritable pile of teams below .500. It’s just a good opportunity to get everyone back and get the rotation back into its regular place.

We already saw Chris Boucher and Terence Davis start to see their minutes cut down. It’ll be interesting to see if Patrick McCaw joins that list when and if some starters start inching into their usual 30-minutes per game range.

D-What?

For a team that’s been injured all year long, as mentioned above, Toronto’s defense has still been one of the leagues best. To be exact, the Raptors have the second-best defensive rating at 104.1 in the league, behind only Milwaukee.

And while the Raptors’ offense has been hot as of late, they’ve also surrendered 100-plus points in seven straight games — 110 or more in four of those games. To still be ranked second in defensive rating goes to show that this has been a shutdown team for the majority of the season. As things settle in health-wise, the Raptors defense should remain as one a lot of teams will have a hard time overcoming.