Raptors with DeRozan face Hawks

January 16, 2015 17:39:28 UK

The Toronto Raptors welcome in the Atlanta Hawks to the Air Canada Centre on Friday in a battle of two of the top sides in the Eastern Conference.

With pre-season prognosticators all suggesting that the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers would set the pace in the East, it has instead turned out to be neither of the Central Division sides, but first the Atlantic Division Raptors and more recently the Hawks of the Southeast Division who have led the way.

The extended absence of DeRozan was not a negative for Toronto when their competitors in the Division are the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks, all of whom are in the process of going through a rebuilding phase.

However it was enough, combined with Atlanta’s recent run of form, to push the Raptors 4.5 games behind their Friday competition.

The Hawks made it ten straight, last time out, with a 105-91 defeat of the Celtics at the TD Garden in Boston. DeMarre Carroll and Jeff Teague each had 22 points for the visitors and Paul Millsap added in a double-double in the second game of a four-game road swing that will culminate against the Bulls in Chicago on Saturday.

Four games back of the Hawks in the Southeast, the Washington Wizards have been somewhat overshadowed by the winning ways of their Divisional rival.

On Friday the Wizards play the front end of a back-to-back, home and home series with the Nets before heading to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday for the return. Washington have won five of six with only a 120-89 rout in Atlanta to blemish their recent form.

The Raptors are 21.00 to win the NBA Championship with the San Antonio Spurs 6.00 and the Chicago Bulls 6.00.

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