4/15 Game Day Preview: Atlanta Hawks vs. Toronto Raptors


Who?: Atlanta Hawks (5th in the East) vs. Toronto Raptors (12th in the East)

What?: NBA Eastern Conference showdown (Game #60, Home game #28)

Where?: Philips Arena (Atlanta, GA)

When?: Sunday April 15, 2012; 6;00 PM (Eastern Time)

How?: SNET (TV)

Other Atlanta Hawks Coverage: Atlanta Hawks Fan SiteAJC BlogPeachtree Hoops (SB Nation), Hoopinion (TrueHoop)


Projected Starting Lineups:

Atlanta Hawks: 

PG: Jeff Teague | SG: Kirk Hinrich | SF: Joe Johnson | PF: Josh Smith | C: Jason Collins

Toronto Raptors:

PG: Ben Uzoh | SG: DeMar DeRozan | SF: Alan Anderson | PF: Amir Johnson | C: Aaron Gray


Injury/Inactive Players Report:

Atlanta: Al Horford (left pectoral surgery), Zaza Pachulia (ankle)

Toronto: Jose Calderon (swollen right eye), Andrea Bargnani (left calf tightness), Jerryd Bayless (partially torn left oblique muscle)


Current Records/Streak & Hot, Lukewarm, or Cold:

Records: The Atlanta Hawks are (35-24). The Toronto Raptors are (21-39).

Streak: ATLANTA- OVERALL: Won 1/ HOME: Won 3/ ROAD: Won 1

TORONTO- OVERALL: Won 1/ HOME: Won 1/ ROAD: Lost 2

Away/Home: The Hawks are (19-8) at home. The Raptors are (9-20) on the road.

Against-.500 teams: The Hawks are (23-6). The Raptors are (13-13).

Atlanta Hawks: Lukewarm. They just dismantled and embarrassed the Orlando Magic, but they’re still fresh off a heartbreaking, overtime loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.

Toronto Raptors: Lukewarm. While the season has been a disaster for Toronto on most fronts, they did at least shock the Celtics in an 84-79 thriller on Friday night.


Season/Past Season Series:

This is the third of four meetings between these two teams this season. The Hawks currently lead the season series (2-0).

The Hawks beat the Raptors all three times they met last season and are currently riding a 5-game winning streak over Toronto, spanning over the last two seasons.


Game Preview:

If the Joe Johnson that shows up tonight is the same as the one who showed up on January 31, then the Hawks should have no trouble disposing of the lowly Toronto Raptors. The last time these two teams met in Toronto, Johnson torched the Raptors for 24 points in the first half and 30 through the first three quarters. He sat the entire fourth quarter as the Hawks coasted to a 100-77 win.

Johnson has averaged 30 points per game in his last four matches against the Raptors, all of which the Hawks have won. The Raptors, who are without two of their best players in Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani, will be scrounging for points as they look for Ben Uzoh to initiate the offense and DeMar DeRozan to shoulder the scoring load. DeRozan only scored nine points in their previous loss to the Hawks and Uzoh wasn’t even on the team. With a dilapidated roster and a less-talented bunch, Toronto should be in over their heads.

While the Raptors are certainly one of the more beaten up teams in the league, the Hawks have also been hit with the injury bug as of late. All-star center Al Horford who is out for the rest of the season will obviously miss tonight’s game, as will his former back-up, Zaza Pachulia, who is scheduled to miss the game after this as well, which is also against the Raptors. This leaves the Hawks, who have had front-court struggles ever since Horford went down, even more vulnerable up front as they’ll have to turn to either Jason Collins, Erick Dampier, or Vladimir Radmanovic to start the game. Josh Smith will be expected to carry the load down low, and not drift to the perimeter for open jumpers as he often does with Pachulia on the court. He should have a particularly strong advantage regardless of who is guarding him in this game, as neither Amir Johnson nor Aaron Gray is fast enough or strong enough to stay with him on the block.

Both Ivan Johnson and Willie Green will be back in action tonight for Atlanta. Johnson missed the last game for an unspecified event that was deemed as “conduct detrimental to the team,” while Green was absent for the birth of his newest child. Johnson will likely see a large amount of time on the court with Pachulia inactive and Green will be asked to contribute and build upon Atlanta’s strong bench performance from Friday night, led by Jannero Pargo.