Monday, March 4, 2024

NBA Preview: Toronto Raptors (6-29) at Atlanta Hawks (18-27)

The Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors try to end four-game losing streaks Sunday when they meet in Atlanta.

Atlanta, playing the second game of a six-game homestand, is coming off a 148-143 loss to the Dallas Mavericks and is 10th in the Eastern Conference.

Toronto, beginning a six-game road trip, was beaten 127-107 by the LA Clippers on Friday. The Raptors have lost eight of their past nine and are 12th in the Eastern Conference.

The teams split the first two games, both played in Toronto. Toronto won the first game 135-128 on Dec. 13 and the Hawks won 125-104 two nights later.

Atlanta has won two straight at home and won two of the three games in the series last season.

Atlanta’s Trae Young returned from concussion protocol on Friday and produced 30 points, 11 assists and three steals in 33 minutes. It was his 12th game this season with 30-plus points and 10-plus assists, best in the Eastern Conference, as well as his 74th such game of his career, moving into sixth place all time.

Young has handed out at least five assists in every one of his past 147 games, the sixth-longest streak in NBA history. He is three games away from tying Russell Westbrook.

The Hawks had four players with 20-plus points against Dallas, a game that saw the Mavs’ Luka Doncic score 73 points. Bogdan Bogdanovic had 24 points off the bench, his 12th game with 20-plus points as a reserve, tied for the most in the league with Malik Monk.

Atlanta will need to do a better job against Toronto’s Scottie Barnes, who averaged 25 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, while shooting 69 percent from the field and 44 percent on 3-pointers in the first two games against the Hawks.

Barnes has been especially tough down the stretch. He scored 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter Friday and leads all players age 22 or younger with most total points in the fourth quarter (280) and fourth-most overall in the NBA.

Since joining the Raptors, R.J. Barrett is averaging 21 points and 7.1 rebounds.

Toronto is without Immanuel Quickley (right quad contusion), which leaves Barnes to start at point guard, with Dennis Schroder continuing as the sixth man.

The Raptors are also without center Jakob Poeltl, who has missed more than two weeks with a sprained left ankle. Atlanta continues to play without forward De’Andre Hunter (right knee inflammation) and Bruno Fernando (lower back).

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