Game Day: Raptors vs. Hawks
Matt Tierney - Raptors.com
Toronto (49-24) welcomes the Hawks (45-30) to town for a 7:30pm tip-off tonight at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors will be looking for a bounce-back performance following their 119-100 defeat to OKC two nights ago. Atlanta is in the midst of a purple patch having won nine of 10 including a two-point victory in Chicago Monday night.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Paul Millsap – Despite shooting just 29% against the Raptors this season, Millsap enters tonight’s game having scored double-digits in 20 straight for Atlanta. On the season, the 31-year old is averaging 17 points and nine rebounds and has helped the Hawks win nine of their last 10 games.
Patrick Patterson– The Raptors forward is rounding into form just in time for the Playoffs. Over his past 10 contests, Patterson is averaging 11 points and four rebounds on an impressive 55% shooting from the field. With Terrence Ross still nursing a thumb injury, Patterson should continue to shoulder the scoring load off the bench for TO.
BANGED UP KYLE
Less than 10 games remaining until the business end of the season begins and coaching staffs are doing their best to ensure their players are rested and healthy.
Despite DeMarre Carroll being unavailable, the Raptors have all hands on deck after Terrence Ross returns from a thumb injury. Dwane Casey has tried to rest certain players along the way including DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.
It's common for players to play on through bumps and bruises and Lowry, who is known for his all-action style of play, is no different.
"He’s had a bursa which a lot of the players in this league have.” The issue resulted in Lowry being afforded a day of rest following last night’s loss to OKC. “He did not practice. He had his elbow drained last night,” confirmed Casey.
After playing a team-high 36 minutes against the Thunder, Lowry provided an update on his status yesterday.
"It’s better. It’s still sore, still a little bit of fluid in there but we’ll take it day by day and get treatment."
Over his past 10 games, the Raptors All-Star has seen a dip in his shooting, hitting 37% of his shots, down from his season average of 43%. Casey sees an obvious correlation.
"Everyone wants to get all up in the air because of it (shooting struggles), well that’s the reason (bursa). Kyle just didn’t forget how to shoot the ball."
Some media and fans were curious as to the overall health of Lowry at such an important part of the season but Casey was quick to put those worries to bed.
"He’s in great condition. His legs are fresh, his body is fresh, he’s just got a bursa on his elbow."