Toronto Raptors: Three takeaways from rout vs New York Knicks

Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors wrapped up the season series against the New York Knicks with another blowout, sweeping the series. What did we learn from the game?

Following a fairly comfortable victory against one lottery-bound team, the Toronto Raptors were back in action against another basement dweller: the New York Knicks.

The Raptors had knocked off the Knicks in a competent manner the week before, but just like last time, they were without Kawhi Leonard. A smart decision. Toronto shouldn’t be willing to risk Leonard in games such as these.

Other than Leonard, the only player missing from the line-up was OG Anunoby, who suffered a nasty collision on Tuesday night. Withdrawing him from the lineup was a smart move as well, take no risks. Not now.

The story of the first quarter was the evident difference in quality. Toronto built up a 30-18 lead by the end of the quarter and shot 37-percent from three, compared to the Knicks zero. The ball was kept moving around well, with Danny Green and Fred VanVleet coming off screens and everyone cutting for Marc Gasol.

The second quarter followed the same pattern, the Raptors hit their threes while the Knicks barely hit a three, Dennis Smith Jr. making the Knicks sole three in the first half. The Raptors threw a few different line-ups into the fold to see what could be conjured up and the results on both ends were promising. The Raptors held the Knicks to just 36 points in the first half, 18 in each quarter.

The Knicks actually made something of the game, well, in the third quarter at least. The Raptors still put up 32 points, led by the scoring exploits of Pascal Siakam, who hasn’t improved by the way. The Knicks, though, put up 28 points in the quarter and bumped up their three-point percentage in the game.

The fourth quarter meant one thing, bubble wrap. The three most veteran players on Toronto’s roster, Danny Green, Marc Gasol and Kyle Lowry all got more than sufficient rest in this one, with Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet both playing over 30 minutes in the game. It didn’t hurt the two younger stars to play for a few extra minutes, but after the injury scare with Kyle Lowry a few weeks ago, the Raptors shouldn’t take too many chances.

Either way, victory was more than assured before the quarter started and the Raptors ran out 117-92 winners.

With all that being said, here are my three big takeaways from the game.

1. Are you watching, Tracy McGrady?

Following Tracy McGrady’s out of touch comments about Pascal Siakam and whether he has actually improved or just gained more minutes, Siakam once again proved that, yes, he has definitely improved.

Siakam had a game-high 31 points on 11-19 shooting, adding five rebounds and five assists, clearly, he was the best player on the floor. He scored in a variety of different plays, leaking out in transition or bumping around in the paint, he did it all. His ascension has been in clear view for everyone to see, so it’s worrying when a former basketball player can’t see the progression. Then again, McGrady doesn’t care about the Raptors.

I doubt Pascal Siakam cares that much about Tracy McGrady either, mind you.

2. Raptors go big, go zone

Our man Mike Bossetti wrote it best, but zone defense can really be a useful wrinkle for the Raptors this postseason. However, they got a little more creative with it against the Knicks, deploying an ultra-big frontcourt.

The line-up which featured the two bigs, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, also consisted of Pascal Siakam at the small forward position. The Raptors went to zone defense immediately and threw the Knicks off. Even more so than already. It was an interesting look that was used twice in the game, and hey if it works in small doses, I’m all for it.

3. Three pointing shooting the difference

7-percent. The Knicks shot a very poor 7-percent from three in the first half. Alternatively, the Raptors shot just over 46-percent. No prizes for guessing who was leading at the half.

They bumped up the percentage to 23-percent by the end of the game, but it was too late by then. The Raptors shot a highly effective 42-percent in the game and controlled the pace throughout. Danny Green, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell all made over three threes in the game, and the Raptors made twenty overall, compared to the Knicks making six.

A lot of the opportunities stemming from better playmakers getting the team better looks, or maybe it’s just the fact the Knicks, or anyone who wasn’t named Mitchell Robinson, had no intention of putting in much effort on defense.

Regardless, it was easy to see where this game was won and lost.

Must Read. Why the Toronto Raptors can beat anyone in the East. light

Make sure to check out our takeaways after each game at