Atlanta Hawks: 3 keys to defeating the Toronto Raptors

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks ended the first half of the season on a positive note, winning their last two games prior to the All-Star break. They did relieve Lloyd Pierce of his coaching duties, handing the reins to interim coach Nate McMillan.

The Toronto Raptors also lost a member of the coaching staff with the highly respected Chris Finch becoming the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. They still have Nick Nurse at the helm so they will be a very well-coached side.

The Raptors are not going well this year. Their home in Tampa Bay is not the same as their arena in Toronto where the fans are as passionate as any in the Association. They have split their 16 home games for the season so far, the Hawks will be looking to get another win over the 2019 champions who are only one game ahead in the standings.

Atlanta Hawks key No. 1) Feed the beast inside

Trae Young has had a wonderful time connecting with his big men John Collins and Clint Capela. They are both a constant lob threat and this makes it easier for the Hawks star to get his shot off closer into the lane.

The Raptors still have not replaced the defensive prowess of Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka and are therefore a lot weaker inside. Capela is one of the success stories of this 2020-21 season and should be too big and skilled for the Raptors.

Atlanta Hawks key No. 2) Take advantage of the weakened squad

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The Raptors have six players out for the game against the Hawks. They are missing OG Anunoby, Terence Davis, Malachi Flynn, Patrick McCaw, Pascal Siakam, and Fred VanVleet. All of these players, with the exception of Davis, are out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

This is a game where the Hawks simply must press their advantage. The Hawks have had multiple top players out through injury throughout the season and other teams have done what is required to take the win. The Hawks must do this if they are to press for a playoff spot.

Atlanta Hawks key matchup) Kyle Lowry vs Trae Young

While he is on the wrong side of 30, when Kyle Lowry gets it going he is very hard to stop. When he is at his best is during back-to-the-wall type situations. Having all of these players out is the very definition of back-to-the-wall.

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Trae Young has shown that if he scores 32 points or more in a game that the Hawks win. While De’Andre Bembry will defend Young for a large portion of the night, the point guard who has the better game will go a long way to helping their team get the win.