Scouting Report: Toronto Raptors
The Hawks, currently riding a season-high four-game winning streak, will welcome the Raptors into town for a tilt that has serious playoff seeding implications. The Raptors sit in the three-seed in the East at this moment, but are just one game up on the Bulls. The Hawks extended their lead over ninth-place New York to four games with their win over the Bobcats last night, and closed the gap on the seventh spot to 1.5 games.
The Raptors come into this game off a loss to the Suns on Sunday, but Toronto is in form of late going 8-3 in their last 11 games. Since trading Rudy Gay to the Kings, the Raptors are 31-16 with DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry leading the way. DeRozan is averaging 22.9 points per game on 43.5% shooting with 4.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game since the Gay trade. Lowry, since the Gay trade, has averaged 18.2 points and 8.3 assists per game.
DeRozan and Lowry will be the primary concern for the Hawks, particularly after the two dominated the Hawks in their last matchup. DeRozan dropped 31 points in both games on near 60% shooting in both games and Lowry added 16 points and 13 assists in the last matchup. Jeff Teague — coming off big second halves in his last two games — will be tasked with containing Lowry, while DeMarre Carroll will likely spend the majority of his night defending DeRozan. Carroll missed the last matchup, but DeRozan got the best of him in their first meeting of the year, although the Hawks got the win.
Defensively, the Raptors have been excellent since the Gay trade allowing just 95.5 points per game with a defensive rating of 101.0. The additions of Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson in that trade have been big for the Raptors’ defensive surge with both players posting defensive ratings under 100 for the Raptors this season and DeRozan and Lowry continue to be solid on the perimeter.
The weakness of the Raptors defense is in the paint where Jonas Valanciunas is still raw as a defender and is not adept at rotating to the rim yet. The Raptors can be had in the paint and it will be a test for Teague to attack the paint and for Paul Millsap and the Hawks’ bigs to try to expose that weakness.
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