All is not well in Raptorland. The Toronto Raptors (49-24) took a beating from the OKC Thunder on Monday, making it their third loss in the last four games. Kyle Lowry‘s elbow is busted up, DeMarre Carroll may not be returning at all this season, and the team doesn’t seem to have that confidence it once did. The hot Atlanta Hawks (45-30) have turned around their season and sit 3rd in the East. In the first two meetings this year, the Raptors took down the Hawks.
For some reason, Lowry will play tonight despite the injury. Terrence Ross will also return tonight. Let’s hope the Raptors can get win number 50 tonight and alleviate some of the anxiety in Raptorland.
Cage’s Keys to the Game
High quality shots
The Hawks are a very good defensive team. Since the All-Star break, they have just dug into teams. Opponents shoot a league-worst 43% against them, and with a struggling Lowry it will be critical that DeMar DeRozan and co play a calm offensive game.
Limit the 3
The Hawks are 6th in the league for three pointers made per game. Much of that is due to Kyle Korver. It will be critical for the Raptors to keep these guys off the three point line. Close out and make them beat you in other ways.
How is this team going to respond to the adversity it is facing? We have seen the Raptors rise up and play like an elite team. We have also seen them wilt away. With the playoffs approaching, it’s time to tune things up.
X-Factor: Jason Thompson
Thompson gets the start tonight with Scola taking the night off. If he can make the Hawks big man tandem of Paul Millsap and Al Horford work on both ends, it will significantly help the Raptors’ cause in this one.