Toronto Raptors [37-16] vs New York Knicks [23-32]: Preview and 3 keys

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 30: Fred VanVleet
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 30: Fred VanVleet /

The Toronto Raptors have won three straight games and are looking to make it a fourth in a row as the New York Knicks come to town.

Setting aside a disappointing loss to the Washington Wizards, the Raptors have had themselves a good run. The Raptors defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves in a heated battled that went down to the wire, they also bested a feisty Portland Trail Blazers team. In that same note, the bench shined in a victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Lastly, they destroyed one of the best defenses in the league when they ran over the Boston Celtics. The Raptors will now turn their attention to the Knicks.

The Knicks are a confused team to say the least. They started the year, off as playoff contenders and that hope was still alive up until this week. Tuesday and Wednesday the Knicks received back-to-back (shoutout to drake) blows as they first watched their star player Kristaps Porzingis land awkwardly and hurt his knee. Later on in the night, it would be revealed that Porzingis suffered a season-ending ACL tear. The next morning the Knicks traded their young stud center Willy Hernangomez for Johnny O’Bryant and two second-round picks.

Beware of Enes Kanter

The current Knicks roster is quite unappealing. The best option is probably Enes Kanter, the man they chose over 22-year-old prospect Hernangomez. Kanter has been playing wonderfully this season after being traded by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Kanter has averaged a double-double this season. He’s also been a rebound monster in his last five games, averaging 16.6 rebounds per game. Kanter has always been known for his offensive game, he’s a beast down low and seems to be able to outmuscle just about anyone for an offensive rebound.

The downside to Kanter’s game has always been his defence. While playing for OKC, Billy Donovan was forced to sit Kanter in crucial playoff games because of his poor defensive play. This year has been much of the same for Kanter as he has a 108.9 defensive rating, ranking him 385 out of 499 total players. The Knicks have been able to manage Kanter well, they rank 17th in the league with a 106 defensive rating.

The Knicks will look to players like Kanter and Tim Hardaway Jr. to fill the role of their now injured superstar. They sit 11th in the East after having lost four straight games and will look to avoid a fifth.

3 Keys to Raptors Victory

  1. Don’t underestimate the Knicks. Yes on paper the Knicks look like a terrible team thanks to a mix of injuries and trades but do not underestimate them. As bad as they might be they’re still an NBA team and can pull out a win on any night. When teams relax is when they lose focus and can slip up (take the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic for example). The Raptors are going to have to prepare for this game as if it was against the Celtics and play their best basketball.
  2. Don’t let them shoot the three.  Teams live and die by the three. It’s the easiest way to get yourself back into a game, a nine-point deficit can be erased by 3 quick shots. The Knicks have quite a few players who can shoot well from beyond the arc such as Doug McDermott and Courtney Lee. The Raptors are going to have to make a conscious effort to prevent the Knicks from shooting the three.
  3. Beat them early and keep it that way.  The Knicks are a desperate team and will be looking for anything to claw and dig at. Getting to a quick lead will help prevent the Knicks from gaining any momentum and building hope.

Next: Evolution of Jonas Valanciunas


The Raptors are going to be on a ‘high’ after having defeated the East-leading Celtics. The Knicks are going to look like a speed bump in the road. The Raptors should be able to make quick work of the Knicks and breeze through any competition they present. The deeper the Knicks’ bench gets the worse it gets. Once all starters are off the court the Raptors bench unit should be able to dice through the Knicks. For those reasons, I’m picking the Toronto Raptors

Toronto 120 – Knicks 94