Knicks vs. Raptors 7:30 PM – Madison Square Garden
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
The Knicks rallied on Saturday to crush the Kings and salvage the three-game road trip with a victory. Amar’e Stoudemire is still listed as day-to-day while undergoing constant treatment on his sprained ankle. With a 2-2 overall record, New York sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings behind Indiana, Chicago and the undefeated Heat.
Toronto hired former Mavericks lead assistant Dwane Casey to help the Raptors improve on another disappointing season. Last season, Toronto finished 22-60 despite some talented young players on the roster. The Raptors did not make a whole lot of noise during the free agency period and the only additions this year are centers Aaron Gray and Jamal Magliore along with point guard Anthony Carter. 2011 first round pick Jonas Valanciunas is an intriguing prospect for Toronto but the Lithuanian decided to spend another season overseas. The Raptors are currently 1-3 on the season after three consecutive defeats.
Last Time Out
New York came out firing in Sacramento on Saturday and scored 35 points in the first quarter en route to a 114-92 win. After only scoring three points in the first quarter, Carmelo Anthony finished with a team-high 23 points. Additionally, Anthony snagged seven boards, dished out five assists, and recorded a steal as part of his all-around effort.
The Raptors suffered a 102-96 loss to the Magic on Sunday night after being outscored 32-15 in the fourth quarter.
The Numbers Game
The Knicks rank No. 2 in the league in free throw attempts and have hit 81.1 percent of those free opportunities at the line as a team this year.
Match-up to Watch
Knicks Frontcourt vs. Andrea Bargnani
From early reports at Raptors camp, a change would be made to free up Andrea Bargnani on the offensive side of the floor. Instead of playing him most of his time at the center position, it sounds like Casey wants his top offensive threat to work from the power forward spot. Even if Bargnani is listed as the center, look for the 7-footer to operate in a similar fashion as Dirk Nowitzki. Floating Bargnani out towards the elbow and letting him face the basket as opposed to a post player could lead to a breakout season. In his last three games, Barngnani has scored 21, 30, and 28 points as the leading man in Casey’s offense. Tyson Chandler will play a major role in defending Bargnani, using his length and lateral quickness to frustrate Toronto’s big man.
What to Look For
While the Raptors rank No. 1 in team assists, the team only averages 91.7 points per game. For the most part, they rely on Bargnani’s offense and do not have too many options for isolation basketball. DeMar DeRozan is a terrific open floor athlete and Jose Calderon is a solid point guard but the Knicks should be able to hold them under the century mark. For New York, the team was in great spirits following the victory over the Kings. The encouraging part of that game was the floor spacing and Chandler’s involvement in the offense. If the Knicks can maintain their offensive flow and receive solid contributions from Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, and Josh Harrellson, they should walk out of Madison Square Garden with a victory.