Last night, the Toronto Raptors (26-43) failed to make it three wins in a row against the New York Knicks (41-26). After dropping Friday’s game at home the Raptors have fallen to 3-10 against Atlantic division rivals, with two of those wins against the Knicks. Tonight the Raptors head into New York for the second game of a home and home hoping to win the season series against Carmelo Anthony and friends. With a less than stellar road record this should be another tough game nonetheless.
The Cage’s 5 Key’s to the game
1. Hit Em’ Where it Hurts
Which means, down low. Not in the family jewels, but in the paint where they are currently shorthanded. Without Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire, the Raptors need to attack the paint and challenge their current “bigs” to step up and defend the basket.
2. Young Legs
The Raptors managed to make last nights game an interesting one because of a lack of quit. Coming off a flight, having old legs, the Knicks should come out a bit sluggish. The Raptors are playing the oldest team in the league and need to utilize their youth to their advantage by getting out and running early. The Raptors found success last night when the Knicks weren’t able to recover and set up their defence, if they can control the pace, they will win the game.
3. The Melo Man
Carmelo Anthony dropped 37 on the Raptors last night. He’s averaged 28 points and 8 boards in three games against the Raptors this season. All eyes on Melo tonight, he’s the horse that keeps this Knicks team going.
4. Bench Production
Alan Anderson was great last night, but he can’t be our ONLY option off the bench. Plain and simple, it’s time for the rest of this team to step it up. Anderson’s production isn’t consistent enough to rely on a game-to-game basis. After dropping 35 points last night, expect the Knicks to be well aware of him on the court.
5. Enough is Enough!
The Raptors have to want it tonight. They have to crave the win, be desparate for it. Have a hunger that SHANT be satisfied without victory. The playoffs are no longer realistic, but playing with some pride to close out the season is. The Raptors are up 2-1 on the Knicks, they need to look at this game with a playoff mentality.
X-Factor: Jonas Valanciunas
Tonight’s X-Factor is Raptors rookie Jonas Valanciunas. The young man has not had a solid game last night with a line of 10points & 7boards. Apart from his stat line, he had a vicious dunk on Melo and provided the Raptors with a reliable option inside. If Kyle Lowry can hit him on those pick and rolls, it would make my day, and probably Jonas’ as well. Feed the big man because he needs more touches.