NBA Game Preview: Toronto Raptors vs. Atlanta Hawks - Date: 1/24/2018 Jan 23, 2018 ATLANTA -- The Toronto Raptors have a schedule break the rest of the way as they try to catch the Boston Celtics for the best record in the Eastern Conference.Beginning with Wednesday night's game at the Atlanta Hawks, the Raptors no longer have to play a Western Conference team on the road.Toronto (31-14) is 19-6 against fellow teams from the East compared to 12-8 against the West, including 8-7 on the road after Saturday's 115-109 loss at the Minnesota Timberwolves.The Raptors, who were playing a back-to-back at Minnesota, have had three days off since that game, which saw them wilt in the second half and lose despite a season-high 40 points from Kyle Lowry."We didn't match their intensity coming out of the locker room in the second half," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said after that game. "We knew they were going to come. We just didn't move offensively. We were standing, watching the ball. We were trying to run our sets, but we played in mud." It was the Raptors' fourth loss in seven games and they used rare practice time on Monday and Tuesday to refocus."It's always good to look at your mistakes, have a couple of days to practice, settle down, mentally just regroup," All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan said. "It should be good for us." The Hawks (14-32) lost 113-97 to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday in Atlanta, but bounced back at home on Monday to beat the Utah Jazz 104-90 for their third victory in four games.Guard Dennis Schroder had 20 points and forward Taurean Prince scored 17 against the Jazz as the Hawks were 12-for-26 on 3-pointers after going a dismal 11-for-48 against the Bulls.Prince, who had been mired in a shooting slump, was 2-for-4 from behind the arc and 6-for-11 overall."It didn't go anywhere. It was just asleep for a while," Prince said of his shot. "Now it's awake again." "We want him to keep shooting and keep driving," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said.The Raptors handed the Hawks their first defeat of the season on Nov. 25, winning 112-78 in Atlanta. NBC Sports Picks. Then the Raptors followed that up with a 111-98 victory in Toronto on Dec. 29, again taking command before halftime.DeRozan, averaging 25.0 points, scored 25 in the second game after having a season-low two with eight assists in the first meeting with the Hawks, when he sat the fourth quarter.DeRozan, who scored 20 points in the Raptors' loss at Minnesota, was selected an Eastern Conference starter for the All-Star Game.DeRozan began 2018 with a career-high 52 points against the Milwaukee Bucks on New Year's Day and scored 42 against the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 13.The Raptors, who are 17-3 at home, return to Toronto for three straight home games against Western Conference teams after playing the Hawks. Winning Sports Handicappers. They face Utah on Friday, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota to close January.The game with Toronto completes a season-longest five-game homestand for the Hawks, but they have three home games in a row after playing at the Charlotte Hornets on Friday.After struggling against the Bulls, the Hawks got back on track defensively against the Jazz. Sports Handicapping Monitor. They haven't allowed 100 points in any of their past three victories."There was a lot of good defense everywhere," Budenholzer said after the Utah game.
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