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.

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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.