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Preview: Hawks visit Raptors in first post-break tilt

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Toronto Raptors v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

After a week-long hiatus, the Atlanta Hawks return to action on Thursday evening. The Hawks finished up the First Half of the 2020-21 season with a road trip to Florida and, fittingly, the team also begins the Second Half in the Sunshine State, albeit in Tampa to face the Toronto Raptors in their temporary home.

It’s been an up and down season for the Raptors, with the team starting in a rut, climbing out of it and then sliding before the All-Star break. All told, Toronto is 17-19 overall after losing four of their last five games, even if a closer look indicates that those losses can be at least partially attributed to widespread roster absences due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

For the season, the Raptors are 10th in the NBA in offense, 18th in the NBA in defense and 9th in the NBA in net rating. Toronto is also well-coached and disciplined, proving to be a difficult matchup for any opponent.

Still, Atlanta is not at a talent disadvantage in this matchup — especially with the ongoing absences for Toronto as noted below — and the Hawks won the first meeting between the two teams this season. While the road venue provides an extra obstacle, it also isn’t as if the Raptors have a tremendous advantage in their home away from home.

Injuries

In a rare twist when compared to the rest of the season, the Hawks are unquestionably in a more favorable injury position than their opponent in this matchup. Atlanta is still operating without De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Kris Dunn, and that absolutely matters. However, Toronto is decimated by absences related to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby are three of the players set to miss the game for the Raptors. In short, those are three of the team’s top four players — along with Kyle Lowry — and the Raptors will also be without Malachi Flynn and Patrick McCaw. Terence Davis is listed as questionable with an ankle sprain.

Toronto was competitive in a single-digit loss to Boston with a similar roster available just before the break. The Raptors are (very) short-handed, though, and the Hawks simply have the better assortment of available talent.

The Line

As of Wednesday evening, the Hawks are installed as 1.5-point road favorites at multiple outlets. It should be noted that some prominent sportsbooks have not posted lines but, at the very least, it appears Atlanta projects as a small favorite, even on the road.

Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Thursday, Mar. 11, 7:30 pm ET

Location: Amalie Arena

TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass (out of market)

Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network

Streaming: Fox Sports Go