The Toronto Raptors lead the Atlantic division by 10.5 games, however their downward spiral continued after dropping their last contest against the Chicago Bulls. With the New York Knicks coming into town the Raptors will try to right the ship and build some sort of momentum heading into the post-season. The Raptors have been in a bad bad way since the All-star break. Toronto has won only 4 of their last 15 games, with their 2-game winning streak being snapped on Friday. The last time Toronto matched up against the Knicks, Kyle Lowry sat out the contest and the Raptors lost 103-98 in embarrassing fashion. After a lacklustre shooting performance in Chicago, the Raptors should be looking to come out aggressive and attempt to fix whatever it is that’s wrong with team right now. At this point of the season the Toronto Raptors can NOT lose to the Andrea Bargnani led New York Knicks…again.
Cages Keys to the Game:
Last time around it look as if the Raptors took the Knicks seriously until the final few minutes of the game. Missed 360’s, a lack of defensive effort and failing to concentrate on both ends of the floor were dominant factors in the Raptors falling to the Knicks. This should be a no nonsense kind of game. The Raptors need to come out looking for blood, they need to show that desire and demonstrate that same energy they had to open the season.
Inside Out Approach
The Raptors recognize that they’re a jump-shooting team. However they also have Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson who are bigs with great hands and touch around the rim. If the Raptors happen to resort to their chucking ways near the end of the shot-clock than so be it – just don’t forget to work it inside to get cleaner looks. The Knicks are a team that’s best post defender is a toss up between Cole Aldrich and Bargnani (lol). The formula to beat this team is pretty straight forward, but sometimes Casey is gonna Casey and there’s nothing you can do about that.
Do the Knicks currently suck…yes. Does everybody know that…yes. None of which matters because they beat the Raptors less than a month ago. The Knicks possess a couple capable scorers and some rising talent. Alexey Shved is one of those few capable scorers and Langston Galloway is definitely a rising talent. Shved has been averaging 22ppg over his last three games. He dropped 15 on Toronto in their last contest and should be able to get any look he wants with a Knicks team that recently lost Jose Calderon to injury.
X-Factor: Terrence Ross
This afternoon’s X-factor is Raptor’s swingman Terrence Ross. If anybody needs to step up as the regular season comes to a close – it’s this guy. If Kyle Lowry sits out this game Toronto will need another spark. Ross is able to bring that spark with spectacular plays on the offensive end of the court and is able to change the game with tenacious defence. Ross needs to play at 100% speed at all times. I’d rather that than seeing him jog up and down the court between possessions.