The Toronto Raptors finally return to their home court, after a highly successful (3-1) road trip. They defeated tonight’s opponent last night at Madison Square Garden, on the strength of another fourth quarter comeback. Can they continue their fine play against a shell-shocked and injury-riddled New York Knicks team? [N.B. Carmelo Anthony will not dress.]
If there ever was a game in which to turn the notion of a trap game (i.e., the first game at home following a lengthy road trip is often a loss, hence the “trap game” meme) on its head, here it is. To begin last night’s game, the Raps were woefully sluggish following several days off, and nearly squandered a huge opportunity. Here’s a game Toronto can win in a romp if they:
- keep pounding away inside. I was surprised by how little impact Tyson Chandler had on the Raps’ offense. Until Chandler proves he can handle Jonas Valanciunas on the low block, and a swarm of Raps attacking the basket, I’d make sure JV got a ton of touches. He can shoot, drive or pass as he chooses.
- harass ball handlers on the perimeter. The Knicks’ offense, such as it is, depends on 3-point shooters getting open. Last night, they shot over 50% from deep. Our bigger guys need to be helping our guards, as their players aren’t any great shakes at creating their own shots, and are forced to depend on catch-&-shoot opportunities.
- get a stronger offensive performance from the second unit. We’re getting a better sense of why Sacramento cut these guys loose. Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson are missing a lot of open looks.
The Raps have accumulated a reverse record to date, going 8-7 on the road but a deeply disappointing 4-8 at the Air Canada Centre. It’s well past time to throw the fans a bone. The Raps will control this game from its early moments, and roll to a 105-88 win.