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NBA Atlanta HawksToronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors vs. Atlanta Hawks Preview

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors opened up their 2013-14 NBA regular season with a win on Wednesday night, beating the Boston Celtics 93-87.

They aim to make it two in a row on Friday night when they travel south to face the Atlanta Hawks.

The Hawks lost their opener to the Dallas Mavericks 118-109 and will look to even their record against the Raptors.

A lot has changed in a year for Atlanta. They have gone from a team that has made the playoffs comfortably for the last five years to a team considered as an outside shot for the postseason.

The departures of Joe Johnson and Josh Smith are a huge reason for their expected decline.

Smith joined the Detroit Pistons who are just one of many franchises that are shooting for the No. 8 seed. The likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto itself will by going face-to-face all season long.

On the other side of the ball, the Raptors are coming off a string of disappointing seasons that hasn’t seen them make the playoffs since 2007.

They flirted with the .500 mark for the last 30 or so games of last season and will be hoping to repeat that form as the season starts. A .500 record would have been enough for a spot in the postseason last year, but it may not be enough this time around.

The Raptors look in good shape and determined as ever to beat the lowly expectations given to them around the league. Their impressive 6-1 preseason record will give them great confidence going into a tough ten-game stretch to start the season.

Eight of those games will come against playoff competition from a year ago. This season’s fate may be decided in that time span just as it was last year when they started 4-19.

The game is set to tip off at 7.30 pm ET.