NBA League Pass Picks: Toronto Raptors at Atlanta Hawks

Toronto at Atlanta
Time: 6:30 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: TOR -8.5
Total: 232.5

Odds c/o 5dimes

The Toronto Raptors made a big move at the trade deadline, acquiring Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. The Raptors traded Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles and a 2024 second-round pick to obtain the All-Star. Gasol marks a major upgrade at center for the Raptors, and the Grizzlies had been shopping its entire team leading up to the trade deadline. Valanciunas has missed the majority of the season with a dislocated thumb, while Gasol has thrived in typical fashion.

The Raptors are 8.5-point favorites in NBA action on League Pass Thursday night, as the Atlanta Hawks host the affair between the two teams. NBA Oddsmakers have set the over/under at 232.5 points.

TOR

Toronto now becomes a very scary team on paper with its addition of Gasol. The Raptors will have a three-man rotation at the 4/5 spots featuring Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakem and Gasol. Additionally, OG Anunoby moonlights at the 4-spot, and Greg Monroe adds further depth. The Raptors are now filling out a top-flight rotation that can absolutely win the Eastern Conference, particularly with its perpetual thorn-in-the-side of LeBron James taking his talents out westward to L.A.

No matter what the Raptors do with Gasol, finding time for Siakem will remain a priority. He is making a run for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award this season, averaging 15.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 blocks/steals per game. Over his last five games, Siakem has tallied 19 points and six boards and the Raptors have won three of those contests. His athleticism and feel for the game are undeniable, and he has become a crucial part of the Raptors attack.

Over the course of the season, Siakem is shooting 55.7 percent from the field on 10.8 field goal attempts per game and absolutely is a key part of what Toronto is doing moving forward. It is unsurprising he was left out of the Gasol trade, as he was at one point becoming the centerpiece in the Raptors offer for Anthony Davis. While he’s obviously not on Davis’ level, Siakem looks to be a power forward any team could build around and his value to Toronto is immense both on the court and in potential trade markets.

The biggest difference maker, though, of course, has been Kawhi Leonard. Though many at the time felt the move of trading DeMar DeRozan for Leonard was nearly “lateral,” it has been anything but. Leonard brings a true lockdown defensive presence in addition to his scoring and is arguably the best “two-way” player in the Association. Leonard is averaging 27.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 blocks/steals per game this season. In the Raptors most recent win over the Philadelphia 76ers, he came up with three steals, three assists, seven rebounds, and 24 points despite shooting just 3 of 11 from the field.

Leonard got to the line to knock down 16 of 17, showing that he can be a major force offensively even while his field goals are not falling. He is a transcendental talent, and between Leonard, Siakem, and Gasol, the Raptors now have one of the best starting frontcourts in the league. Serge Ibaka will likely come in to spell both Siakem and Gasol off the bench, and he is now one of the best frontcourt reserves in the league with that likely “demotion.”

ATL

The Atlanta Hawks have won two straight and three of its last five to improve to 18-35 on the season. It still trails the Orlando Magic by 3.5 games to get out of the Southeast Division cellar, but the future is bright in “Hotlanta.”

Trae Young has blossomed well in his rookie season, and John Collins is quietly having an outstanding second year in the league. That duo, along with Taurean Prince, represents the key pieces of the Hawks’ young core, which truthfully is one of the better in the league once the rest of the roster fills out. The Hawks will hope to land Zion Williamson in the 2019 NBA draft, which would really put the icing on its frontcourt in combining Williamson with Collins, who is a phenomenal athlete in his own right. The Hawks could become a very exciting team based on the transitional talents of Young and Collins, but the roster is definitely still in progress.

After Collins, Young, and Prince, the Hawks lineup is a lot dicier and filled with a number of players deficient in scoring skills. Dewayne Dedmon and Alex Len form something of a two-headed monster at center, but neither has outstanding upside at this point in their respective careers.

Rookie 2-guard Kevin Huerter has looked strong at times, but his playing time is still somewhat usurped by the ancient Vince Carter, who sees 15 minutes a night in this, his farewell tour through the NBA. The Hawks have put an exciting product on the court finally and are getting some wins, but it still will be a lottery team. That more or less sums up the situation in Atlanta: exciting but struggling. For now.

Share This Post

The information contained at this site is for entertainment purposes only. Any use of this information in violation of any state, federal, or local laws is prohibited.
Copyright © MadduxSports.com - Contact The Experts - Privacy Policy - Advertising Rates - Staff Bios - About Maddux Sports