The Toronto Raptors hope to get an encore performance from O.G. Anunoby when they travel to play the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.
The Raptors have dominated the series over the last two seasons. Toronto won three of the four meetings a year ago and scored a 139-109 win over Atlanta on Oct. 31 in their first encounter of the season when the Hawks committed a season-worst 18 turnovers.
Anunoby scored a career-high 32 points and matched his season high with 10 rebounds in Toronto’s 112-104 win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday. The Raptors have won two straight.
Atlanta followed its emotional win over Milwaukee with a poor performance in a 126-101 loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. Atlanta has won five of its last eight, the losses coming against Philadelphia, Utah and Boston.
Anunoby was 13 for 18 from the field against Miami and is averaging 18.3 points and 6.4 rebounds.
“He wanted the ball, he controlled it, he made moves, he made pass-outs, all the stuff you have to do when you’re the go-to-guy,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said.
The Raptors should also have a healthy Fred VanVleet on Saturday. He returned on Wednesday after missing two games with the flu and scored 23, even though he wasn’t at full strength.
“It took all of about three minutes before I realized I wasn’t 100 percent,” he said.
VanVleet leads Toronto’s balanced scoring attack with 18.8 points, along with 6.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists. VanVleet missed the first game with Atlanta but has averaged 16 points against the Hawks in 16 career games.
Atlanta’s Trae Young scored 27 points against the Celtics, but the Hawks continued to have shooting issues. The team scored only 18 points in the first quarter and could never dig out of the hole. The Hawks rank 20th in the league in field goal percentage (.463), 27th in 3-point percentage (.322) and 11th in scoring (114.6).
“We’re thinking about it too much,” Young said. “It’s just a matter of going out there and playing, playing free, getting back to playing with confidence.”
Young leads the team with 26.9 points and 9.3 assists and is the only player in the league averaging at least 25 points and nine assists. In last year’s lone win against Toronto, Young had 41 points and 11 assists to help the Hawks overcome a 12-point deficit in a game they won 127-100.
Despite the middling shooting success, the Hawks continue to reach the 100-point mark. They have scored 100-plus points in their first 15 games, the fourth-longest stretch to begin a season. Atlanta has reached the 100-plus points mark in 36 consecutive games dating to last season, the longest active streak in the NBA.
The Raptors will be without Pascal Siakam, who has missed five straight games with a right adductor strain. Siakam had 31 points and 12 rebounds against the Hawks in October. Gary Trent Jr. has missed two straight games with right hip soreness and Precious Achiuwa (right ankle sprain) and Otto Porter Jr. (dislocated toe) are also out.
–Field Level Media