After an encouraging preseason slate of game, the Atlanta Hawks open the 2014-15 regular season Wednesday night with a difficult road matchup against the Toronto Raptors. Wednesday's test should be a good one against a Raptors team that has plenty of expectations and according to many, is the favorite in the Atlantic Division.
The Hawks come into the game healthy which is a must after last season's injury plagued campaign. Al Horford has yet to declare himself 100 percent recovered from last season's pectoral injury but he will be in the starting lineup.
What Atlanta's rotations will look like are a bit unknown. Shelvin Mack and Dennis Schröder went into the preseason competing for the backup point guard spot behind Jeff Teague. Both performed well but neither separated themselves. The Hawks also have a number of options in the frontcourt behind starters Horford and Paul Millsap. Who plays may be a mix and match for head coach Mike Budenholzer depending on matchups.
Atlanta split four games with the Raptors last season and if they are to earn a victory on Wednesday they will have to do a better defensive job against Toronto's dynamic backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. DeRozan torched the Hawks last season averaging 28 points while shooting 53 percent from the floor. Lowry was no slouch either adding 19.3 points to go along with 7.5 assists.
The Hawks went into the offseason looking to get bigger and more defensive minded on the wing. They added veteran Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore to the bench to give Budenholzer more defensive options. They will get put to the test in the opener as they try to slow down DeRozan and Lowry.
Wednesday's game also marks the first matchup against former sixth man Lou Williams whom the Hawks dealt, along with Lucas Nogueira, to Toronto over the summer. Williams averaged 12.8 points during the preseason while shooting 43 percent from the field. The Hawks will likely see a lot of him on Wednesday.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, October 29, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM