This game is not just a random game in the middle of winter. The Toronto Raptors have chosen their direction by trading O.G. Anunoby and Pascal Siakam several weeks ago.
They are riding the moral victory winning streak, as winning has been really difficult post-Siakam trade. The Atlanta Hawks, on the other hand, are caught in a weird spot.
They have a roster that’s expected to compete, but the results say otherwise. It’s been a disappointing season for the Hawks, and they are getting pushed to the brink of making a pivot with every loss.
The good news for the Toronto Raptors and the Atlanta Hawks is that tonight’s matchup guarantees one team a win. It’s a win that can give either team some respite from both fanbases that are increasingly getting frustrated with how the season has turned out for them.
It will be a tough game for the Raptors, who won’t have Jakob Poeltl’s services for the 10th straight game. Jontay Porter, the Raptors’ Two-Way contract acquisition last December, isn’t 100% either, as he barely played in the last two games due to an eye injury. The last time the Raptors faced the Hawks, Clint Capela was a handful, and that’s with Poeltl on the floor.
RJ Barrett has been added to the Raptors’ injury report for tonight’s game in Atlanta. He’s doubtful with left knee swelling. Poeltl (ankle) is also doubtful while Quickley (thigh) remains out and Jontay Porter (eye) is probable.— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) January 28, 2024
To make things worse for the Raptors, RJ Barrett is doubtful for tonight’s game with left knee swelling. Expect Bruce Brown to get the starting spot if he misses tonight’s game. Immanuel Quickley is expected to miss his second game in a row due to a quad contusion. It’s a surprise that Javon Freeman-Liberty nor Kira Lewis Jr. did not get called up to join the team in Atlanta, since the Raptors 905 doesn’t play until Tuesday at home.
I mean, look, Freeman-Liberty’s been on a tear these past few games with the Raptors 905, but if he’s playing like this (made 5-5 on catch-and-shoot 3s), he should be getting a look with the main club, right?
The Raptors have lost their last four games, eight of their last nine games. A healthier and deeper Atlanta team makes them a tough out, and it’ll come down to whether Scottie Barnes can put this team on his back and lead them to a win. Scottie Barnes is putting up 20.2 points, 8.4 boards, and 5.7 dimes this season, which should be good enough to be in consideration for one of the all-star wild card spots. However, we have yet to see a jump in his production post-Siakam trade, but his usage has already changed drastically.
Hopefully, Thaddeus Young can keep rewinding the clock. He’s looked like a spry version of himself in the last two games, averaging 12 points, six boards, and four dimes. Rookie Gradey Dick has been getting consistent burn for the past five games, averaging at least 15 minutes per game, while starting to find his shooting stroke, shooting 5-for-14 from the perimeter during this stretch. That’s a remarkable jump, given his underwhelming start to the season.
The Hawks are in the middle of a six-game homestand, which began the other night, giving Luka Doncic the red carpet en route to 73 points. Expect the Hawks to go after this game urgently, as they have a murderer’s row of opponents over the next few games (Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, and Philadelphia 76ers).
The backcourt pairing of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray has been perpetually formidable to handle for the Raptors, a team that’s progressively gotten worse with their point-of-attack defense. Young is averaging 27 points and 10.8 assists this season, while Murray is putting up 21.4 points per game. Hopefully, Dennis Schroeder and Gary Trent Jr. can slow them down a bit.
How to Watch
6:00pm ET on TSN
Toronto: Dennis Schröder, Gary Trent Jr., Bruce Brown, Scottie Barnes, Jontay Porter
Atlanta: Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, Saddiq Bey, Jalen Johnson, Clint Capela
Toronto: Jakob Poeltl (Ankle — Doubtful), Immanuel Quickley (Quadriceps — Out), Jontay Porter (Eye — Probable), RJ Barrett (Knee — Doubtful)
Atlanta: Bruno Fernando (back — Out), Mouhamed Gueye (Back — Out), De’Andre Hunter (Knee — Out), Vit Krejci (Shoulder — Out)