Game Preview: Raptors vs. Hawks

Holly MacKenzie -

The Atlanta Hawks are in town to take on the Raptors in the team’s first pair of back-to-back home games since the 2008-09 season (excluding the lockout shortened season of 2011-12). Toronto is coming off a 113-80 blowout victory against the Los Angeles Lakers while the Hawks suffered a 121-85 blowout loss against the Detroit Pistons.

Tip-off: 7:30 P.M. ET

Broadcast Info: SN1 / SN590


Hawks without Millsap

The Atlanta Hawks will be without All-Star Paul Millsap when they face the Raptors. Millsap first missed Atlanta’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night with a sore left hip. He was also out for the team’s Friday night loss to the Detroit Pistons and the team announced that he would not make the trip to Toronto for Saturday’s game. Millsap averages 16.1 points per game and is the leading scorer for the Hawks who have lost eight of their last nine games after opening a 9-2 record to start the season. Despite being without Millsap, they will be looking to get back on track and shake off Friday's loss.

Carroll set to suit up against ATL

It’s become somewhat routine for DeMarre Carroll to sit for one of the two games in back-to-back situations. Although this could change in the future, for now, one game is usually reserved for rest for Carroll. In the home-and-home back-to-back against the Lakers and Hawks, the Raptors coaching staff elected to rest Carroll against the Lakers, meaning he’ll be available to suit up when facing his former team.

It’s kind of hard but I know they have my best interests at [heart],” Carroll said of getting used to taking games off for rest. “I have to come out and be ready to play. I wake up in the morning and I be like, ‘Coach am I playing or am I not?’ And he’ll let me know. They do a good job communicating with me and letting me know which game they feel is best for me to play.”

Although the decision of which game Carroll will suit up for is out of his hands, he said he usually has a good idea which games he’ll be playing in and feels it’s matchup driven.

“A lot of times it’s more how we’re going to guard the best guy on their team or whoever the best player is,” Carroll said. “Like if it’s Kevin Durant or LeBron James, I know for sure [I’m probably going to be playing]. if we’re playing a team that’s a full team, I’m more prone to sit out that game rather than if we’re playing a guy like Kevin Durant or LeBron or Paul George. I think that’s the biggest factor, I feel.”

Finding a way

Before Toronto kicked off its six-game homestand, Carroll spoke about the importance of taking care of business on the ACC floor and not letting up during a two-week span with the comforts of home all around. The Raptors have done that through the first three games of the homestand, and now look to continue it for the last three. Having a back-to-back with both games at home is an interesting situation that doesn’t pop up often in the NBA schedule.

“We had some when I was in Minnesota,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. “I think we had some when I was in Dallas. I think that’s the first we’ve had here. I’d much rather have it here than on the road.”

Despite continued calls for his team to improve their intensity on the defensive end of the floor, Casey has been pleased with the growth his team has shown when it comes to finding ways to win games when things are not happening easily.

“Well, [we’re] definitely not [winning games] with defence right now,” Casey said. “I think that it’s true that we’ve got some guys that know how to win, that know how play the game the right way to dig out a win. Kyle and DeMar are good examples of that. I think it just permeates through the team. Finding different ways to win — sometimes not pretty — but finding a way to win.”

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