The Atlanta Hawks are trying to separate themselves from the pack in the race for the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference and have done their best with wins in four straight games. The Hawks will try to make it five in a row when they visit the team directly in front of them in the standings, the Toronto Raptors, on Wednesday.
Toronto does not have to worry much about Atlanta with a five-game cushion on the No. 3 spot but would like to be playing better as it preps for the playoffs. The Raptors were trounced 119-100 at home by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday and have dropped three of their last four with All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry ailing. The Hawks are one game ahead of the fourth-place Miami Heat and 1 1/2 up on the fifth-place Boston Celtics after knocking off the Chicago Bulls 102-100 on Monday to pick up their 14th win in the last 17 games. Atlanta will have to earn the No. 3 spot with a tough closing schedule that includes two games against the Raptors, two against the East-leading Cavaliers and one against the Celtics.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBATV, FSN Southeast (Atlanta), TSN (Toronto)
LINE HISTORY: The Toronto Raptors opened as 1.5-point favorites over the visiting Atlanta Hawks. The public hit the Raptors early on and the books were forced to raise the line slightly to -2. The total debuted at an even 200 and hasn’t moved.
Hawks – SF T. Sefolosha (Probable Wednesday, ankle).
Raptors – SF T. Ross (Questionable Wednesday, thumb), PG K. Lowry (Probable Wednesday, elbow).
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Hawks (-7.2) – Raptors (-7.7) + home court (-3) = Raptors -3.5
DANCE TEAM WAR:
ABOUT THE HAWKS (45-30, 40-34-1 ATS, 35-40 O/U): Atlanta has gone over the century mark in each of its last nine games and credited the pace with helping them edge the Bulls on Monday. “We played with a lot of pace tonight,” point guard Jeff Teague told reporters after the win. “It played into our hands, playing a little faster. Those guys have so many big guys and we were able to get in the paint and make plays.” Teague and backup Dennis Schroder combined for 40 points in the win, with all of those points coming from inside the 3-point arc.
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (49-24, 39-34 ATS, 38-34-1 O/U): Lowry had his inflamed right elbow drained after Monday’s loss and is shooting 26.2 percent from the field in his last four games. “We just drained it,” Lowry told reporters. “We thought it would calm down over the next few days … hopefully we get a good reaction to it. I’m not going to make no excuses, but it’s definitely something I don’t want to play with. I don’t like playing with (it). But it is what it is. This time of year, you just play through it.” Lowry is even struggling at the free-throw line, connecting on 60.4 percent of his tries in his last five games.
* Hawks are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 road games.
* Raptors are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
* Under is 4-0 in Hawks last 4 vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
* Raptors are 6-1 ATS in the last 7 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is crushing the Raptors -2 at a lofty 75 percent clip and the over 200 is getting almost as much love, getting hit by 72 percent of Covers Contest picks.