The Toronto Raptors just knocked off their two closest competitors in the Eastern Conference to become the first team in the NBA to reach 30 wins and re-establish themselves as the class of the conference. The Raptors will try to maintain their edge when they host the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.
Toronto pulled out a 123-116 victory at Milwaukee on Saturday and had enough energy left over to knock off the Indiana Pacers 121-105 on the second night of a back-to-back on Sunday thanks to Norman Powell stepping up with 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting off the bench. "I feel really confident," Powell told reporters. "I think the coaching staff is trusting me; I've talked to them, broken down film and things like that and talking with me where I can find my spots to be aggressive and help the team and where I fit in. I feel good, just going out there and seeing what the defense is doing, see what the defense is giving me and picking my spots." The Hawks are hanging around the bottom of the standings in the East, though they are putting up some competitive performances of late. Atlanta snapped a three-game slide with a 106-82 triumph at home over the Miami Heat on Sunday and earned the win in six of the last 10 contests.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FS Southeast (Atlanta), TSN (Toronto) LINE: Raptors -14.5
ABOUT THE HAWKS (12-27): Atlanta put together one of its best performances of the season on Sunday, holding the Heat to 35.6 percent from the floor while dominating the glass 67-52. Power forward John Collins led the way on the boards with 13 rebounds to go with 13 points in his 14th double-double of the season - sixth in the last eight games. Five other players grabbed at least seven boards in the win including rookie shooting guard Kevin Huerter, who showed off his range of skills with 10 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (30-12): Toronto rested star forward Kawhi Leonard on Sunday but point guard Kyle Lowry (back) returned after a six-game absence. "He pushes the tempo and, I don't know, just him, you can't really put it into context, but he just does a good job of bringing energy, pushing the pace, doing the little things, taking charges, being scrappy," point guard Delon Wright told the Toronto Sun of Lowry's contributions. Lowry contributed 12 points, eight assists and three steals to Sunday's victory but told reporters that his back was something that will need to continue to be monitored going forward.
1. Raptors SG Danny Green is 7-of-11 from 3-point range over the last two games after missing all eight of his attempts in the previous two contests.
2. Hawks SF DeAndre' Bembry is averaging 18 points over the last two games, pushing his season mark to 8.5.
3. Toronto took the last five in the series, including a 124-108 win at Atlanta in the first meeting this season on Nov. 21.
PREDICTION: Raptors 121, Hawks 112 Bet Now
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