The Toronto Raptors (20-32) head over to the “Big Apple”, as they square off against the New York Knicks (32-17) at Madison Square Garden. In what will be the second night of a back-to-back for the Raptors, Toronto is looking to carry over the confidence from last night’s impressive victory, into tonight’s game against the divisional rival Knicks.
Cage’s 5 Keys to the Game:
1. Defend the Perimeter
There’s no team in the NBA that takes more 3’s, or makes more 3’s, than the New York Knicks. With perimeter shooters all throughout their lineup, the Knicks are extremely tough to stop when hitting from the outside. If you can take away the three ball, that will be absolutely huge in trying to come out of tonight with a victory.
2. Bench Production
Just like the Denver Nuggets, the New York Knicks have themselves quite the second unit as well. With guys like, Amare Stoudemire, and JR Smith coming off the bench, they could cause some headaches for this Raptors squad. The Raptors, who are on the second-night of a back-to-back, need to make sure their bench-play can just about out-mach New York’s.
3. Get this crowd out of it early
While sporting an impressive (19-7) record at home, this is an MSG crowd that is extremely energetic, especially when the Knicks are having success like they are now. On the other hand, their energy level decreases significantly whenever their beloved team under-performs. If the Raptors can jump out to an early and promising lead and get this crowd out of it, the Raptors could add yet another impressive win to their resume.
4. Rudy Gay
Just like the Knicks, the Raptors now have themselves an All-Star caliber wing, and his name is Rudy Gay. This will be Gay’s first stint against NYK in a Raptors uniform, and having him play at the level he’s capable of, will indeed be beneficial for Toronto, especially in crunch-time.
5. Carmelo Anthony
When thinking of the New York Knicks, the first thing that comes to mind is Carmelo Anthony. The All-Star SF is having himself an “MVP” type of season, and will be a tough for guard for the Raptors all night. If the Raptors can contain Melo to a certain extent, it’d be an amazing accomplishment for their defense. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
X-Factor: DeMar DeRozan
Tonight’s X-Factor for the Raptors will be DeMar DeRozan. While likely having an aging Jason Kidd guardi him throughout some parts of the night, DeRozan needs to take advantage of that, and showcase the strength and quickness that he has over the future hall of famer. He’s also been pretty good against the Knicks (averaging 19.2 ppg against them), so a big performance against them tonight would help them dearly.