Ten observations from Raptors 108, Hawks 93. . .
1. The Hawks had been much better defensively while going 7-7 over the past month. But, except for the Pelicans, the Hawks hadn’t beaten a very good offensive opponent over that span. The Raptors are an excellent offensive team (fourth in efficiency) and they were on point against the Hawks. The Hawks have lost all three meetings with the Raptors by an average margin of 20.6 points.
2. Even on a good night the Hawks would be hard-pressed to win a shootout against the Raptors. They have no chance when they are loose with the ball, can’t make 3's and don’t get to the line. That trifecta led to just 40 points for the Hawks in the first half.
3. The Raptors went for 58 points on 47 shots in the first half. Most impressive for the Raptors is the way they did so in spite of getting little from Raptors guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. When the Hawks trailed by 20 points in the second quarter, those two players had just three points each.
4. The Hawks couldn’t slow reserve guard Fred VanVleet in the first half: 14 points on five shots with two assists and four rebounds in 10 minutes. That matched the first-half points production for all eight Hawks bench players.
5. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer had emptied his bench by early in the second quarter. I get that he was trying anything to match the Raptors but Budenholzer’s rotations have been weird lately. And he didn't get much help from his bench tonight.
6. There was more weirdness in the third quarter. Budenholzer played Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore the entire period and gave Taurean Prince the hook after four minutes then left him on the bench for good. It turns out Prince's good game against Utah wasn't the start of something.
7. Malcolm Delaney couldn’t get the second unit going in the first half the way he did against Utah. Budenholzer gave Isaiah Taylor some early run but he couldn't do much, either.
8. Luke Babbitt again made an early appearance at small forward. I guess he’s part of the wing rotation now after falling out of the power rotation as the Hawks got healthier.
9. Dewayne Dedmon had his least productive game since returning from injury: two points and one rebound in 13 minutes before garbage time. John Collins had a better run in the second half than the first and finished with 13 points on 13 shots and 16 rebounds.
10. Budenolzer keeps saying he’s sticking with Miles Plumlee as the starting center because he likes his physicality and defense. But for the second straight game Plumlee got a quick hook against a team with imposing bigs who got scores in the paint, this time Jonas Valanciunas. Then again, Dedmon couldn’t do much with Valanciunas (16 points on 14 shots, 13 rebounds).
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