The Toronto Raptors are hoping to bounce back tonight against the Atlanta Hawks, after dropping a close one against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night. The Raptors (11-7) are once again without Jonas Valanciunas in the lineup, however, there’s another possibility of seeing Lucas “Bebe” Noguiera on the floor very much like Sunday night. With the Hawks’ tandem of bigs, it might be a good idea to throw some size on the floor.
The Hawks on the other hand are currently 7-3 on their home floor; playing exceptionally better basketball on their court, which will prove to be a major challenge for a team looking to find their rhythm again. Also, DeMarre Carroll makes his return to Atlanta for the first time since signing with the Raptors this off-season.
Raptors Cage’s Keys To The Game
Slow The Ball
Atlanta is super good at finding each other, hence why teams tend to refer to the Hawks’ and San Antonio Spurs‘ systems as examples of good team basketball. One way to be able to limit their ability to share the ball, is load up on the other four, pressure defensively, and allow room for the ball-handler. This is called, “slow the ball,” because in this case, it will force the handler to think of the options rather then the quick “side-top-side” passes that Jack Armstrong loves to mention.
Defend The Paint
Easier said then done. Paul Millsap, Al Horford, Jeff Teague. Yes, these guys love playing in the paint, whether it be driving to the basket, back-to-the-basket, or via pick-&-roll, there’s quite a heavy favour for them to get easier points. I won’t say load up the paint, considering Atlanta is absolutely deadly from the perimeter; that’s the danger with playing against the Hawks. In this case, the help defense must be on point this evening, and there can be no defensive meltdowns, otherwise, they’re very much capable of winning games in less then 48 minutes.
Atlanta does not nearly have as deep, and strong bench on both ends as the Raptors; it all start with Cory Joseph, down to Patrick Patterson. Once the bench makes its way into the game, it’ll be important for them to put their staple into the game. They’ve proven so far through 18 games that they have a ton of energy and pressure on both ends. Hopefully that’ll be the case again tonight, because the Hawks’ bench lacks depth and talent.
Ross has been anything but an X-factor in the past couple games, in fact, he’s been the team’s non-factor. All jokes aside, Ross needs a confidence booster. With Atlanta’s non-as-in-depth bench, and Ross’ style of play which may suit the pace of this game tonight, he’d be an excellent catalyst in the Raptors’ success. Shooting the three in rhythm, and in system, and defending the basketball and covering ground with his athleticism is what the Raptors need tonight.