Preview: New York Knicks (40-26) vs Toronto Raptors (26-42)

The Knicks visit Toronto with something to play for as a team, unlike their hosts. New York is gearing up for the playoffs. However, the price of breaking camp with an aging lineup is likely to be injuries. Unsurprisingly, the Knicks have a significant number of quality players out of commission, and have been forced to test-drive a number of roster combinations. After losing 5 of 7 games while figuring out how to patch and bail, the Knicks have won their last two.

Mar 20, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) drives past Orlando Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo (4) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Kenyon Martin, a veteran banger who only recently joined the team, is listed as a starter for tonight, as is 35-year-old NBA rookie Pablo Prigioni, a skillful Argentinian international. The only familiar starters’ names are Raymond Felton, who’s enjoying a bounce-back season, and Carmelo Anthony. Iman Shumpert of the flattop hair is the shooting guard. The Knicks’ bench has a bunch more NBA  elders, including Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby, a long-ago draft choice of Isiah Thomas when he was Raps’ GM.

The Raps have been this team twice already, and can make it three if they:

  • Attack the basket. The Knicks’ front line is paper-thin. If the Raps can get Martin or Camby into foul trouble, the Knicks will be forced to lean on the non-existent defensive skills of Steve Novak, or play small. Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan must forgo the urge to toss up jumpers. They need to drive and score, or drive and kick. Kyle Lowry must ensure the ball gets inside to Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson.
  • Push the pace. The Raps need to get out and run against this team. Our big men should own the boards, so watch for a lot of fast breaks.
  • Limit their offense. The Knicks rely on ‘Melo, J.R. Smith, and Novak to score. Rudy Gay isn’t the best defender, but he seems to enjoy a challenge, and guarding Anthony will certainly provide that. Smith and Novak can hurt opponents from deep, so the Raps will need to be dogged in closing out on them.

Mar 20, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Iman Shumpert (21) drives in during the first quarter against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

If the Raps control their turnovers, a win is in the cards. New York is hurting so much, they may be hard-pressed to dress 9 healthy bodies. I’ll pick our guys to win a tight one by a 95-93 score.

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.


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