It's kind of ironic that the Atlanta Hawks had to leave the normally warm Southeast in search of a basketball game. But with the city of Atlanta practically paralyzed due to a winter storm full of snow and ice fury, the Hawks flew North for the winter.
Toronto may be able to handle the snow -- they were expected to get as many as three inches overnight -- but their Toronto Raptors may not be able to handle the red-hot Hawks. The Hawks (25-14) look to win for the ninth time in 11 games when face the Raptors (13-24) on Wednesday night at the Air Canada Centre (7:00 PM, SportSouth, 97.9 FM).
A winter snowstorm that dumped as much as 5-8 inches of snow along with some ice in some areas of the metropolitan area brought the normally temperate Southern city to a virtual standstill. Cars and trucks wrecked all over the area's vast interstate system, causing backups that stretched miles and lasted for hours.
Although the weather in the area improved on Tuesday, the team and the league decided to cancel that night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks, marking the first time in at least 17 years (and likely ever) that a Hawks game was canceled in Atlanta.
Atlanta, instead, headed to our normally colder neighbors to the North in search of a basketball game. Although it was snowing by the time the Hawks landed around midnight eastern, the city of Toronto has more than Atlanta's eight snow plows and should have no problem hosting tomorrow night's game.
They may have wished they were snowed in instead. About the only thing that has been able to slow down the Hawks is the weather.
Atlanta has been clicking on all cylinders ever since All-Star Joe Johnson returned to the lineup. The Hawks are 9-3 since Johnson's surprise return on Dec. 17 and have held the surging Orlando Magic at bay for second place in the hotly contested Southeast Division.
Josh Smith has also been scorching hot of late, averaging 20 points over his last six games for an Atlanta team that has had little problems dispatching of the Raptors of late.
Atlanta looks to win for the ninth time in 11 tries against Toronto. In the Hawks' previous eight wins over the Raptors, Atlanta has soared to victories by a margin of 14.2 points.
The Raptors hope to repeat the success they had on Sunday in a 118-112 win over the lowly Sacramento Kings. DeMar DeRozan had 28 points and Andrea Bargnani chipped in 30 in the win. Toronto also hopes to get former Arkansas standout Sonny Weems back into the fold. The swingman, who has missed 11 games with a back injury, was averaging 11.5 points over his previous 18 games before the injury.