On Tuesday night, the Raptors played the Hawks in what was expected to be a rather easy game for them.
However, whether due to the fact that they were playing their third game in four nights, a stronger-than-usual showing from the bottom-feeding Hawks (12-29), or a weaker-than-usual showing from the league-leading Raptors (31-12), Atlanta forced a down-to-the-wire game that finished with a score of 104-101 for the Raptors.
Here are my takeaways from that game:
1. The Raptors did not Look as Deep as Usual
The Raptors are generally known to be one of the NBA's deeper teams, with guys such as Jonas Valanciunas, Greg Monroe, and Fred VanVleet on their bench.
Against the Hawks, Toronto was missing Danny Green from their starting lineup and JV from the bench unit.
That forced the starters (Kyle Lowry, VanVleet, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, and Serge Ibaka) to see more action than they normally have to, with each starter totalling 32+ minutes.
In addition to the two missing players, the bench guys who did play, outside of OG Anunoby, didn't really do the job. Norman Powell, Delon Wright, and Monroe combined for 10 points, 6 assists, and 8 boards in 43 minutes.
If the Raptors want to beat the streaking Brooklyn Nets on Friday, they'll need more production from the second unit.
2. Jeremy Lin and Trae Young are Looking Like a Solid One-Two Punch
Trae Young, the Hawks' rookie point guard, and Jeremy Lin, the Hawks' veteran backup point guard/starting 2-guard, combined for 39 points and 13 assists on the night.
While that wasn't enough to overcome the depleted Raptors, it pushed them to the brink. That much would be enough to beat many teams in the league, and in that, the Hawks can take solace.
While Young's shooting still isn't the most efficient, and the Hawks are probably kicking themselves for swapping him for possible All-Star, Luka Doncic, he and Lin work together to make up a not-bad-at-all backcourt.
3. John Collins is One of the Hawks' Only Non-Whiffs in Recent Drafts
John Collins, as the Hawks' 2017 first-round pick, has been having a breakout season in his sophomore campaign.
The big man out of Wake Forest is averaging 18.8 points and 10.6 rebounds on 58.2% shooting.
Compare that to the mediocracy of Young and DeAndre Bembry, as well as the good-not-great performance from Taurean Prince, and Collins is looking pretty good.
Throw in guys like Omari Spellman, Kevin Huerter, and Tyler Dorsey, who don't even play, and Collins is easily the best of the Hawks' draft picks since Dennis Schroder, who he is arguably a better pick than as well.
The Raptors don't play again until Friday night against the Nets, a game in which they'll need all the help they can get, while the Hawks see those same red-hot Nets on Wednesday night in Brooklyn.