As the Raptors learned earlier in the week on a visit to Atlanta, sleep on the Hawks at your own peril. The Hawks came awfully close to ending the Raptors winning streak before the visitors really asserted themselves in the final few minutes to get out of Atlanta with a win. Since that loss the Hawks have knocked off the Clippers and laid a beating on the host Washington Wizards sandwiched around a loss to Oklahoma City. Trae Young, the must-see point guard of the Hawks had a big week that included a starting spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team and then a 45-point, 14 assist game in that win over Washington. Atlanta is not a playoff contender yet but they have the ability to outscore just about any team in the league.
FRED VANVLEET VS TRAE YOUNG
As is the case just about every game, VanVleet might have primary defensive duties on Young, but he’ll have help throughout the night and there will be other guys who spend time on the Hawks volume shooter and scorer. Young is the kind of player made for the All-Star game, with little interest in defence and an ability to score in so many ways it’s more about containing the damage than actually stopping him. Look for the Raptors to corral him early with multiple bodies and keep him from getting downhill when he’s just too fast to stop.
As much fun as Atlanta is to watch, they don’t defend at anything close to an NBA level. The Hawks give up 113.3 points per 100 possessions which is the third worst defensive rating in the league … They scored 145 on the Wizards Sunday but gave up 130 as well … Young isn’t just a scorer. He’s an assist guy too leading the East in dimes since the calendar turned to 2020. He also leads the league in free throws since that calendar turn … John Collins missed a huge chunk of the season with his suspension for a positive test but he’s rounding back into form. Earlier this week he had a 28-point, six rebound night against the Thunder … This is probably your second to last chance to see Vince Carter in action in Toronto. The Hawks make one more trip to Toronto on April 10 so plan accordingly.