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Raptors look to run past Hawks in Atlanta: Preview, start time and more

Down half their rotation, can the Raptors rekindle the scoring magic from the last time they played Atlanta?c

Atlanta Hawks v Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors are on the road tonight to face the Atlanta Hawks for the second of three meetings this season. After a rousing, short-handed win over the Heat on Wednesday, the Raps will be hoping two days rest will help the remaining pieces of their rotation — who have been spread pretty thin over the last week, and will be spread thinner.

Yes, the injury report has been a disaster-class for Toronto since Pascal Siakam went down with a groin injury two weeks ago. And while The Athletic’s Eric Koreen reports that Siakam has resumed on-court activities, the Raptors are still continuing without him and other key pieces in Gary Trent Jr. (who now has an illness designation), Precious Achiuwa and Otto Porter Jr.

Add Dalano Banton and Chris Boucher to that mix too, as the former will miss significant time with an ankle injury and the latter has come down with the dreaded non-COVID illness.

That leaves the Raptors with nine healthy players — ten, if Justin Champagnie makes the trip after recently being called up from the 905.

Atlanta, meanwhile, is enviably healthy — albeit they have been a good matchup for the Raptors in recent meetings. On Halloween night, Toronto routed the Hawks at Scotiabank Arena, shutting down Trae Young and Dejounte Murray with double teams and dropping 139 points on their way to a 30-point victory.

While the setting and faces will be different, the Raptors will be hoping a similar strategy and some positive “mo” from the Miami win will be enough against another playoff-calibre team. Let’s get into what to watch for after the game details.

Where to watch:

Sportsnet One, 6 PM ET


Toronto Raptors – Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, Thad Young, Juancho Hernangomez

Atlanta Hawks – Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins, Clint Capela


Toronto Raptors – Dalano Banton (out – ankle), Chris Boucher (non-COVID illness – out), Otto Porter Jr. (toe – out), Gary Trent Jr. (non-COVID illness – out), Precious Achiuwa (ankle – out), Pascal Siakam (groin – out)

Atlanta Hawks – Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee – out)


Fred, Scottie and OG

Wow, revelatory stuff from the writer here.

Still, all three of the Raptors top players on Wednesday played as strong as they’re able to — which resulted in a tough win over the Heat despite all the injuries. OG Anunoby led the way with 32 points and ten rebounds in 43 minutes, while Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes combined for 42 more. There’s no time for any of them to take a step back in Atlanta.

Anunoby in particular has been a revelation over the last few games. Taking it on himself to get downhill on offense, he’s been able to prop up normally dismal Raptors half court sets. He got to the line for seven free throw attempts in Detroit, then followed it up going 5-for-6 against the Heat.

These aren’t world-beating numbers, but it all matters for OG — who is already playing like a Defensive Player of the Year candidate on the other end.

Without Siakam in the lineup, Toronto needs players to get easy points. By burrowing himself in the paint, attacking at every opportunity and forcing the defense to gravitate his way, OG is ensuring that the Raptors have the juice to stick with teams despite all their injuries.

Matching up with Trae

Hawks superstar Trae Young will not have fond memories of playing the Raptors coming into tonight. After being held to just 14 points and ten assists on Halloween, Toronto still has enough range in their limited lineup to frustrate Trae at the point of attack. Look for Anunoby to get the initial assignment on Trae, as the Raptors attempt to envelope his ability to break down the defense with his paint scoring and passing. Toronto will be happy to let Young shoot from outside, or try to dribble himself into success elsewhere on the floor.

Turnovers were a big issue for Young in the last meeting, and getting out in transition will be key for the Raptors again. They forced a season-high 18 turnovers from Atlanta, leading to 24 points, and were especially sharp at the start — with six of those forced giveaways in the first 12 minutes alone.

Realistic expectations

Winning against the Heat was a nice surprise for a Raptors team down so many of their key players. It’s important over the next stretch of games that fans keep their expectations somewhat checked, though. While there’s plenty of rest between each outing — the Raptors get another three days off before they face the revamped Nets on Wednesday — tough competition and a limited rotation will eventually start to catch up to Toronto.

It’s one game at a time until Siakam starts what is hopefully a parade of returning players. Keep up with the Hawks tonight, and Toronto won’t be having a week’s worth of regrets before their next matchup.