Raptors-Hawks Preview

With four All-Stars and a solid lead over Toronto atop the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks didn’t feel any pressure to make changes at the trade deadline.

The Raptors also stood pat after entering the All-Star break with the best record in team history.

In a matchup of the top two clubs in the conference, the Hawks seek their longest home winning streak in 18 years while the Raptors try for their best road run since 2001-02 on Friday night.

Atlanta (43-11) went 3-3 just before the break, but that followed a franchise-record 19-game winning streak, so the club saw no reason to make a move before Thursday’s trade deadline. All three losses came on the road and the Hawks also managed to defeat NBA-leading Golden State and Washington in that stretch.

The Hawks, 6 1/2 games up on Toronto in the race for the top seed in the East, became the first team to have four All-Stars since 2011 when Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Al Horford and Paul Millsap were selected.

After an 89-88 loss to Boston in its final game before the break Feb. 11, Atlanta will try to avoid its first back-to-back losses since mid-November. It’s looking for a 13th straight home win, which would give the club its longest such streak since a 20-game run in the 1996-97 season.

”We were just going through the motions, weren’t really playing hard,” forward DeMarre Carroll said of the loss to the Celtics. ”So that’s what happens when you take any NBA team not seriously.”

The Hawks aren’t likely to make that mistake against Atlantic Division-leading Toronto (36-17), which is seeking its first five-game road win streak since Nov. 14-Dec. 1, 2001.

The Raptors, with an NBA-high 14 1/2-game division lead, were also quiet at the trade deadline after winning nine of 11 en route to the best record at All-Star weekend in the team’s 20-year history.

"You don’t want to sell the farm to win a series this year," said coach Dwane Casey, whose club has won three in a row. "We’ve still got to look at the big picture and that’s the thought process."

Former Hawks guard Lou Williams had 27 points and DeMar DeRozan added 23 and hit the winning jumper with 12 seconds left Feb. 11, giving Toronto a 95-93 victory over the visiting Wizards in its latest game Feb. 11.

DeRozan seeks a fresh start in the second half after shooting 33.3 percent and going 1 of 8 from 3-point range in his past six games. He’s averaged 29.3 points and 55.4 percent shooting – going 7 of 14 from 3 – in his last four at Atlanta.

Toronto beat the Hawks 109-102 at home in the season opener Oct. 29 and 126-115 on the road Nov. 26, then went 6 for 25 from beyond the arc and allowed 60.9 percent shooting from the field in a 110-89 home defeat to Atlanta on Jan. 16.

The Hawks have shot 53.7 percent overall and 50.7 percent from 3-point range in the season series. Korver has made 13 of his 18 3s while averaging 16.7 points.

Raptors All-Star starter Kyle Lowry hasn’t had much success in the three games, averaging 12.0 points – 6.6 below than his career-best season average – and shooting 30.6 percent while going 2 of 15 from behind the arc.

The Hawks, 25-3 at home, have posted a minus-12.0 rebounding margin over their last six games. They’ve been beaten on the boards in all three meetings with the Raptors.