Another game, another crack at the starting lineup that may or may not be changing. While Toronto managed to steal a victory away from the middling Atlanta Hawks a couple of nights back, they also managed to give up 39 points in the 1st quarter. The difference this time around, was that it wasn’t the starting unit that sputtered, but the reserves who let things slip away in the first half. This, again, remains indicative that a change might be in order.
Alas, we won’t be seeing it this game and if history repeats itself, another beat down of a Hawks team that the Raptors have made a habit of beating down, might mean that the win a couple, lose a couple trend might could be continuing. Let’s jump into the preview!
How to Watch:
TSN at 7:30 p.m. ET
Toronto: Dennis Schroder, Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Jakob Poeltl
Atlanta: Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, De’Andre Hunter, Saddiq Bey, Clint Capela
Toronto: Christian Koloko (respiratory — out)
Atlanta: Kobe Bufkin (thumb — out), AJ Griffin (personal — out), Mouhamed Gueye (back — out), De’Andre Hunter (knee; — outaaa), Jalen Johnson (wrist — out)
Human Highlight Nostalgia
When you play the same team twice, your mind really starts to wander when thinking about the opposition. Atlanta’s been one of the best offenses since Trae Young was drafted. Imagine what this team would look like if Dominique Wilkins suited up alongside Trae?
Young pumpfakes a helpless defender, blows by him and speeds down the lane with eyes on the basket. Meanwhile, Capela distances himself from the rim, giving the defender the impossible choice of preventing a Young floater or a dump-off pass to Clint. While this attracts everyone’s attention, Wilkins sneakily cuts from the baseline and windmill jams an alley-oop from Trae.
Sequence of the Season?
The other drawback of having a below-average offense is that, selfishly, there simply aren’t enough eye-catching highlights from Toronto. Fans of the Raptors are more likely to remember half-court possessions that lead to nothing because they happen in such abundance.
Enter Trae Young.
Maybe the craziest, most amazing, and awesome sequence of the Raptors season— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) December 14, 2023
Scottie AND-1 pic.twitter.com/DPBLdHar4J
The similarities between these teams have been well-documented. Atlanta and Toronto are mid-tier teams teetering on landing in the lottery. They each have All-Star calibre players that have piled up the stats but not necessarily the wins. The Hawks and Raptors will be linked in trade rumours — often with each other — for the next two months (and beyond?).
Looking down the road, they could each play a role in some NBA history. The Detroit Pistons are currently mired in an NBA-worst 21-game losing streak. On Monday, the Hawks will look to avoid being the team that ends Detroit’s (then) 23-game losing streak. A few days later, Toronto will absolutely not want to be the team that prevents the Pistons from an NBA-record 29th consecutive loss.