Toronto Raptors (11-7) vs Atlanta Hawks (12-8)
Thursday Dec 3, 12:00pm
Last season, DeMarre “Predator” Carroll was one of the under-the-radar players who became a contributing cog in one of the most flowing systems in the league. The Hawks ($1.66) surprised everybody last season and earned the number one seed in the East, and Carroll – a paragon of new-era basketball – was a big part of it. Fast forward to the 2015 offseason and Carroll signs a four-year, $60 million deal to join the Raptors ($2.27). In his return to Atlanta, we’ll get an early season assessment of where these two hopeful contenders stand.
The intrigue doesn’t stop at The Predator’s return, however. Atlanta and Toronto are two playoff-bound Eastern Conference teams with a similar overall level of talent, and the result of this game could have a significant impact on the seedings come playoff time.
Not only that, the Hawks are simply beautiful to watch from a basketball nerd perspective. Their coach, Mike Budenholzner, is a disciple of Spurs coaching legend Gregg Popovich, and lets just say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Coach Bud has implemented a system with so much off-ball movement that you almost don’t know which part of the offense to look at half the time. Screen. Cut. Pass. Flare. Screen. Pass. Catch. Shoot. Repeat. I don’t know what just happened but I liked it.