The Toronto Raptors sneaked out of Gotham with a 4-point victory last week. Tonight, the New York Knicks attempt to settle the score in our building. The Knicks, a team chock full of elderly players, are in win-now mode. This game will feature Rudy Gay of the Raps in the face of NY’s Carmelo Anthony, two players who epitomize the term “volume shooter”. Both of them were dreadful the first game; if one of them finds their range, his team will win.
The Knicks have benefited greatly from a bounce-back season from point guard Raymond Felton. He’s averaging 14+ points and 6+ assists per game. Tyson Chandler is an All-Star centre; mobile and physical, he changes shots in the paint. Chandler averages 11+ points and rebounds per game, so the Raps will need to box him out forcefully or we’ll be exploited badly on the boards. Jason Kidd is a shadow of his former self, but is still effective in a limited role as a “glue guy” and defender.
Steve Novak will pop off the Knicks bench to shoot from downtown. He will pull a Raps’ big man out to the perimeter, because he must be guarded tightly. Novak has a quick release, and the green light from coach Mike Woodson to fire away. He can be exploited on offense by a player like DeMar DeRozan who utilizes a quick first step to escape his defender. Amar’e Stoudemire these days is a reserve forward, but can still score the ball down low. He’s a defensive liability, and doesn’t rebound like he once did. Watch for Pablo Prigioni, a 35-year-old rookie (!) Argentinian guard. J.R. Smith hurt the Raps from distance in NYC, and merits close attention.
Greybeard Knicks Marcus Camby (an ex-Raptor who still can defend and rebound) and Rasheed Wallace (the Designated Technical Foul) are listed as Injured, which is too bad. Both of them are still fun to watch, for entirely different reasons, but injuries are a price the Knicks knew they would pay for a veteran squad.
The Raptors are healthy, and have had a day’s rest. We have to hope that Wednesday’s dismal performance was just a bad night, and not the start of a downward spiral. As always, I’ll take the optimistic view. Both team’s mad bombers will enjoy good nights, but the better balance of the Raps will produce a 110-106 victory.
Brian Boake is a co-editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.