The Atlanta Hawks go for the season sweep over the visiting Toronto Raptors tonight, while trying to stay ahead of the Chicago Bulls in the playoff race with just two games remaining.
A sweep might be tough, as the Hawks will be without Al Horford and DeShawn Stevenson. They are 2-4 without Horford this season. Johan Petro will fill-in.
Atlanta sits in fifth place, a half game ahead of sixth-place Chicago, and needs to win tonight against Toronto and Wednesday in New York in order to safely clinch the #5 seed. If the Hawks lose one-of-two, they need the Bulls to lose Wednesday’s game. If they drop both remaining games, they’ll slip to sixth and Chicago will get the #5 seed because they own the tiebreaker over Atlanta.
As for the Raptors, their playoff hopes are non-existent but that doesn’t mean they’ve given up on the season. Toronto is going into Atlanta with a three-game win streak, two of which were against Chicago in a back-to-back set, and the makings of a lethal duo in DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay.
In their most recent win, a 93-87 home victory over the playoff-bound Brooklyn Nets on Monday, DeRozan dropped a game-high 36 points and Gay chipped in with 26 and 10 rebounds. In the pair of wins against the Bulls, Gay averaged 21 points and DeRozan averaged 19.5 points.
The Hawks snapped a three-game skid last week and have now won their previous two in a row, averaging 116.5 points while shooting 52.3 percent.
Josh Smith has lit it up recently against the Raptors as he’s scoring 24.7 points ppg on 56.4 percent shooting while grabbing 11.3 rebounds in his last three home games in this series.
DeRozan has scored 23 in each of his last two trips to Atlanta and averaged 22.8 ppg on 53.8 percent shooting over his last six overall.
Toronto has averaged 90 points in two losses to the Hawks this season. Atlanta is averaging 100 points while shooting 48.7 percent in those games.
A win would give the Hawks their second series sweep over the Raptors in the past three seasons.