Hawks vs. Raptors — Things of Note

Graham Chapple —  March 11, 2017 — 1 Comment

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks came up with a hugely important victory over the Toronto Raptors at Philips Arena on Friday night, 105-99, in a tightly contested affair that saw 17 game ties and 15 lead changes. The Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan’s 28 points while Serge Ibaka added 18 points. For the Hawks, they had three players who scored 20 or more points in the form of Dennis Schröder (26 points), Paul Millsap (21 points) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (20 points).

Hawks win potentially vital tiebreaker 

With this victory concluded the season series between these two teams, just three meetings this year between the Hawks and Raptors. With this victory, the Hawks won the season series 2-1, giving the Hawks the tiebreaker in the event of these two teams ending the regular season with the same record. Why is this so important? The Hawks are just two games behind the Raptors for home court advantage and now own the tiebreaker.

“It’s big, it was the same scenario as the game against Indiana where they were behind us in the standings, but this time we closed it out.”

— Dennis Schröder

This was a huge win for the Hawks. If they had lost this game, they may as well have kissed away any hope of home court advantage as they would’ve trailed the Raptors by four games. But this…this win gives the Hawks a chance of home court advantage but there’s plenty of work to be done yet…

“…It’s a good quality win for us. I’m glad we got it. Coming down the stretch it (the tiebreaker) might come in handy.”

— Paul Millsap

End of six game home stand

Friday night marked the end of the Hawks’ season-long six game home stand. In the end, they finished 3-3. They probably should’ve finished it 4-2 were it not for a horrible THJ shot immediately followed by a Glen Robinson III game-winner when the Hawks played Indiana, but, other than that, that’s about what everyone expected. Sure, wins against the Warriors and Cavs would’ve been nice, but the likelihood of getting those were always unlikely (although Atlanta had their chance against Golden State when they were shorthanded in the second quarter).

The Hawks took care of the teams they were supposed to in the form of Dallas, Brooklyn and this win against the Raptors was a bonus and a nice way to end the home stand.

Much better three-point defense

It’s not a shocking revelation to anyone that the Hawks have not done a good job defending the three-pointer this season. Heck, even in this home stand there was a three game stretch where the Hawks conceded 60 threes to just three teams. But last night the Hawks gave fans hope that Atlanta are finally beginning to address this issue. The Raptors shot just 4-of-25 from behind the arc. While the Raptors did have some good looks that didn’t go down, there was so much more activity from the Hawks in getting out and closing down three-point shooters. Just look at this play, for example:

Off of the penetration, guys are getting out to the three-point shooter and forcing them to give the ball up. Sure, in the end this ends up in a made basket for the Raptors but you’ve made the Raptors really earn this one and didn’t concede a wide open three. This is a step in the right direction and a point of emphasis:

“Coach told us he was watching film yesterday. He told us going into the playoffs we have to take the 3 away. That’s what we tried to do. We did a great job with it but we still have to get better.”

— Dennis Schröder

“Point of emphasis. We are in the bottom half of giving up 3-point shots. We have to get the 3-point shooters and get them off the line. We did that tonight.”

— Paul Millsap

Poor benches

If you enjoy bench scoring…this wasn’t the game for you. Combined, there were only 31 bench points, 16 for the Raptors and 15 for the Hawks.

For the Hawks, part of the reason for that was that THJ actually started this game in place of Thabo Sefolosha, who was late to the arena earlier in the day. José Calderón, again, got the nod off the bench ahead of Malcolm Delaney as the backup point guard. Again it’s worth mentioning that this is simply the Hawks seeing what they have in Calderón and you shouldn’t assume that Delaney is no longer the backup point guard.

Dunkzzz

Two great dunks from Friday night. First, this Dwight Howard dunk on Serge Ibaka:

Second, Paul Millsap…wait whaaat?? Paul Millsap with the jam??? Yessir.

That’s only Millsap’s 10th dunk this season. A rarity these days. In comparison, Dwight Howard currently has 167 dunks on the season.

Quick little note on Paul, Friday night’s 21 points marked Millsap’s fifth straight game of 20 or more points — a career first.

10 dolla bills for number 10

There was a very amusing sign present at Philips Arena, something I saw in a video of PA announcer, Ryan Cameron, interviewing Dennis Schröder. Upon closer inspection (shout out to Chris Vivlamore for snapping this):

We shall see how this goes come July. I have a feeling Hardaway will be able to plenty of these signs with the contract that’s headed his way.

Up next:

The Hawks (36-29) are back in action tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies at Fed Ex Forum.

Game stats: NBA.com
Hawks quotes: The AJC via Chris Vivlamore
More Hawks quotes: Peachtree Hoops via Kris Willis
Raptors quotes: TSN

Graham Chapple

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