- First and foremost, great showing by the defense. The Hawks have been utterly shit on offense of late, but the Raptors have been just as bad on defense. Holding the Hawks to 42.7 percent shooting from the field and just 30.3 percent from deep is a decent showing. The Raptors were strong in the halfcourt game and the only one who gave them problems was Al Horford.
- On the other side of that, great game by DeMar DeRozan. Had some turnover issues early, but really settled into a relentless attack against the Hawks’ defense. Clever sets by Dwane Casey got DeRozan on curls heading to the hoop, and with very little shot-blocking on the inside, DeRozan was able to finish nicely with either hand.
- Dare I say: decent minutes from both Luis Scola and Jonas Valanciunas. They couldn’t guard Horford and Paul Millsap in space but you really can’t expect them to. At least they got some of it back with 7 combined offensive rebounds and a combined 22 points. Both players are matchup dependent, and it’s nice that they were able to regain some of that advantage on the glass where the Hawks are weak.
- Two huge plays by Kyle Lowry down the stretch:
- The steal with 3 minutes left off Jeff Teague before taking it for a layup
- The charge on Dennis Schroder with a minute left to stop the Hawks’ run
- Schroder might be the quickest player in the league. He’s so lethal working off high screens from Horford and Millsap because they can shoot, which means the big has to step up, and that puts so much pressure on the on-ball defender (Cory Joseph in this case) to climb around screens and somehow keep up with German Rondo.
- I like what Tim Hardaway Jr. can do off the bench for Atlanta. He’s able to create his own looks, which isn’t all that useful when the Hawks’ offense is working, but he can pull them out of the mud when it’s stuck. The Hawks could use some chaos.
- What a flop by Kent Bazemore down the stretch. He’s gonna hear from the league.
- Excellent start by Patrick Patterson. A putback, a three, a layup, and a midrange jumper had him 4-4 to start, along with his typically sharp defense. He’s so incredibly vital to the Raptors’ success. We take him for granted.
- I have the utmost faith in that TJ Ross pull-up. He’s really steady on that shot.
- Is anybody afraid of Atlanta in a potential Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup? If the Raptors’ bigs can assert themselves on the glass (48 vs. 33 tonight) then I’ve got the Raptors in 6.