Will start with injury report for the Raps and Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani are both game time decisions and did take part in morning shot around according to Matt Devlin. The Raptors will take all the help they can get in this re-match with the Hawks. This is the Hawks that scored 146 points on them not that long ago in Atlanta in front of friends, family and Sam Mitchell. The Hawks enter this game coming off a demolition of the Bulls and have won 3 of their last 4. The Raps also have won 3 of the last 4 also with a big win over the Bulls. Safe to say Sam Mitchell will not be at the ACC for the re-match. Jay Triano will be and you have to wonder what he can do to get this team to be able to hang with Atlanta. The Raptors had a disappointing effort vs the Bucks. They were actually given the day off yesterday after that sub-par performance. Not that I am capable of coaching an NBA team, far from it. But I am pretty sure I would not have given the team a day off after the way they played. I am old school in believing you earn a day off. Even if it was a film work and no physical stuff I think it would send a message. The major question I have is can Jay Triano push this team. I think from what we have seen on the floor it seems this team needs a coach that will ride them hard. Not unlike a Sam Mitchell would or even if you want an upgrade from him how about Jeff Van Gundy.
Hedo has struggled this season and you can bet under his old coach in Stan Van Gundy there is no way he could get away with it. Now no one knows how Jay Triano is with this team behind closed doors. However in public he is very careful not to call out players. Maybe he shouldn't be. I liked the refreshing honesty that we saw from Jarrett Jack after the debacle that was the last game vs the Hawks. Jessie Ventura in old school 80's wrestling use to bill himself as the man who told it like it is. Well Jack did that in spades in Atlanta. It had a short term impact along with the team meeting that would follow. I think this team has to take things seriously and honestly evaluate itself and figure out how and what they need to do to get wins.
After all there are a lot of these teams in the East that are labouring to stay around the .500 mark. There has been a clear divide between the top 4 teams and everyone else. The Hawks have clearly placed themselves in the top group with the other 3 big hitters in Orlando,Boston and Cleveland. I have never given the Hawks much credit in the past but they have really turned the corner and raised the bar.
Tonight is not just about win or lose for the Raptors. To be honest about thing winning will be very difficult task for them. The Hawks based on who they are playing and where they sit our just better than Toronto. However win or lose how will the Raptors respond in terms of effort and energy. If the Hawks build a 10 point lead will the Raps fight back or roll over and play dead. This team when they are not playing well do not fight through adversity. Brandon Jennings got hot at the end of the first on Wednesday and the Raptors were cooked. If the Raptors fight hard and do not come out on top vs a team like the Hawks I think the majority of fans could live with that. However if they show no fight and accept defeat no one including them can be happy with that.
So cross your fingers and hope we see a scrappy and fighting Raptors team tonight cause they will need to be to have any chance at winning. If they are going to beat the Hawks they have a better chance doing it at the ACC as the Hawks are just 6-4 on the road so far this season.