A nice 4 seed versus 5 seed matchup for Eastern Conference home court in the first round takes place Friday night in Atlanta. Toronto currently has a slight lead over Atlanta for the right to host their would-be first round matchup but a lot can change down the stretch especially with head to head tilts.
Neither the Raptors nor the Hawks are playing especially dominant basketball in what is supposed to be the most important time of the season. Atlanta went only 4-6 in their last 10 games while Toronto was slightly better at 5-5. Then again this could be indicative of the parity in the Eastern Conference in general where only Boston (7-3) won more than 6 of their last 10 games.
Toronto is playing above .500 basketball on the road this season, with a 16-15 record away from The 6ix. Atlanta isn't as good of a home bet as you'd expect sporting just a 17-13 slate in Philips Arena.
Toronto has had a pretty good run of it since the All-Star break going 4-2. However, Friday night's game in Atlanta will be the 4th tilt in a 5 game road trip and the Raptors could be getting anxious to get back across the border. The Hawks will be playing their 4th game since Sunday, but at the same time, they have all been at home as part of a six-game stand in Atlanta.
Friday marks the proverbial rubber match in the season series between the two teams. On December 3rd the Raptors plucked the wings off the Hawks with a 128-84 win in Toronto. It probably should be noted that Atlanta was playing a 2nd leg of a back-to-back matchup in that contest, however.
Atlanta fared better 13 days later again in Toronto, notching a 125-121 victory. Both games this season have gone over in the total but this will be their first matchup in Atlanta.
So where is the lean in Friday's game? Prior results say take the over but both teams have played to the under recently (Atlanta with 5 straight a week ago and Toronto 3 of 4 through March 4th). Atlanta was able to get a win in Toronto so in theory, they should be able to notch a victory at home. This coupled with Toronto's road weary legs make the Hawks the pick.