Things to watch as the Raptors close out a back-to-back on the road tonight in New York…
Closing Time: The Raptors have had little difficulty putting themselves in a position to get leads so far this season, but finishing opponents off has proved to be a problem during the team’s current three-game slide.
They found themselves within two of the Pacers late at home and have lost leads in the third and fourth quarters against the Mavs and Magic the last two games.
“It’s almost like a broken record, but we’re growing, we are doing some good things, we’ve just got to be able to finish it out,” Casey said after Sunday’s loss. “When a veteran team comes and closes the door like Orlando did tonight… we’ve got to turn around, hold a lead and not let a team take a run on us like they did.”
STAT To Sit? New York could be without the services of Amar’e Stoudemire tonight. The power forward is reportedly doubtful for tonight’s game after suffering an ankle sprain last Thursday against the Lakers, but remains a game-time decision. Stoudemire was a major problem for the Raptors last season — putting up 26.8 ppg and 11.5 rpg in four meetings (all Raptors losses) last season.
His absence didn’t affect the Knicks too badly in Sacramento on Saturday, as a balanced offensive attack helped them snap a two-game losing streak with a 114-92 rout of the Kings.
Damage From Distance: The Raptors have been burned by threes this season, with opponents making eight per game against them (fourth most in the league) and New York likes to shoot it from long range at just under 23 attempts per game. Orlando missed plenty of their 27 attempts on Sunday, but really climbed back into into things by hitting four of them during that game-changing run. The Knicks could easily heat up from long-range as well.
Tired legs? The Raptors leaned pretty heavy on Andrea Bargnani (41 minutes), Jose Calderon (36 minutes) and DeMar DeRozan (36 minutes) on Sunday against the Magic. Jerryd Bayless and Jamaal Magloire also played more minutes than usual given injuries to Aaron Gray (rapid heart beat) and Jerryd Bayless (left ankle sprain).
Factor in the schedule getting nasty in the next two weeks, could that mean more floor time for players like Ed Davis, James Johnson or possibly Gary Forbes tonight?
Keeping Up The Ball Movement: The Raptors offence has been off to a solid start thanks in part to a willingness to share the ball. Toronto leads the league with an average of 24.8 assists per contest with Jose Calderon’s 9.3 assists per game good for fourth in the league.
Calderon eclipsed the 3,000 assist mark with a game-high 13 last night and according to Raptors media relations he’s the fifth-fastest active player to reach that milestone (431 games) and did so with the fewest turnovers (733).
More from Jose on that achievement below.