After holding off the Memphis Grizzlies in a tight contest Sunday, the Toronto Raptors look to carry that momentum into New York on Monday night when they face the Knicks in the end of a back-to-back.
There’s plenty to be happy about if you’re a Toronto Raptors fan. The city just capped off a historic All Star Weekend, the Raps are currently sitting comfortably at second place in the Eastern conference and the team has gone 15-3 in their last 18 games. The Knicks, however, are 2-8 of their last 10 and fighting for the playoffs as the 12th seed in the East. Time for some analysis!
The Knicks aren’t having the best season but that doesn’t mean the team should be undermined. The Raps must avoid biting on any and every pump fake. Reason being, New York leads the league in free throw percentage, converting 81% of their shots from the charity stripe. It would be best if the boys from the Six can play tough defense and limit fouling.
Capitalize on Poor Percentages
It’s no secret that Carmelo Anthony is one of the best offensive players in the league. By putting pressure on ‘Melo, the Raptors can take advantage of the poor shooting percentages that New York accounts for. To be more specific, the Knicks are averaging 44% shooting from the field and 33.6% from beyond the arc, both in the bottom 10 rankings in the league. Taking advantage of the Knicks’ poor shooting should prove to be crucial in getting a W tonight.
Continue Spectacular Guard Play
There’s a reason that both Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan represented the Raps this year at All Star. Arguably the best backcourt in the East, Lowry and DeRozan are averaging a combined 44.4 points, 9.4 boards, and 10.4 assists a game. The exceptional efforts from our backcourt will be a major key in this game.
X-Factor: James Johnson
DeMarre Carroll was signed this summer specifically to guard the likes of Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Since he’s nursing an injury and has no timetable for a return, the task of guarding Anthony goes to James Johnson. JJ must be a disruptive defender in order to shut down Carmelo and the Knicks.