Season Series: Raptors 2-1
And then there was one. After six months of basketball, we’ve reached the end of the regular season. The Toronto Raptors will take on the New York Knicks to close it out on the road. For the first time in five seasons, the team will be preparing for the postseason rather than packing up their lockers for an early spring exit.
With much to sort out in the Eastern Conference standings, Wednesday’s game could go a lot of different ways. The Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls and Raptors are all jostling for positioning in spots 3-6 in the conference. The Raptors control their fate and claim the third spot with a victory in New York or a Bulls loss in Charlotte.
The Knicks will be without Carmelo Anthony who has a torn labrum in his right shoulder. After resting DeMar DeRozan in Monday’s victory against the Milwaukee Bucks, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said he would assess the situation on Wednesday before determining what was best for his team with respect to lineup changes.
What To Watch
Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson: As Johnson and Patterson try to get in rhythm after missing time — Johnson because of his ankle, Patterson because of his elbow — they’ve said the biggest hurdle has been getting their legs back. Patterson is slowly but steadily rounding into form. Johnson has benefitted from a week off to rest the ankle and was moving much better on Monday.
Greivis Vasquez’s versatility: Since arriving in Toronto after the December trade that sent Rudy Gay to Sacramento, Vasquez has talked the right game. Previously a starter in the league, he has said he is happy to share time with Kyle Lowry and win. Vasquez has come up big for the Raptors in April. Starting in place of DeRozan on Monday, Vasquez scored 25 points. When Lowry missed a week with a bruised kneecap, Vasquez stepped in as the starting point guard and helped the Raptors weather the storm.
Controlling Amar’e Stoudemire: When the Raptors lost to the Knicks last Friday, Stoudemire had a season-high 24 points and 11 rebounds in 40 minutes. In the past two meetings between these two teams, he’s averaging 23.5 points and 10 rebounds. Slowing Stoudemire should serve to halt any Knicks hope of winning this game.
– “I’m more worried about us than who we play. It’s about us, about our health, the rest, whatever we decide to do in that situation. If we play Brooklyn we play Brooklyn. If we play Washington we play Washington. There are no easy teams left in the playoffs right now. All of the teams are very capable. Brooklyn is probably more playoff-ready. But we can’t control that. And I’m not going into this game trying to control that. I’m more worried about our guys’ health, rest if we rest them, and our rhythm.” – Dwane Casey on his approach going into the final game of the season
– It doesn’t matter for us. We’re just worried about ourselves. We just want to clean up on our mistakes. Whoever’s in front of us, we’re going to play the same way we’ve been playing all season.” – DeMar DeRozan on playoff seeding
– “We still have to continue work to get better. We’re not where we need to be defensively, offensively for the playoffs. We’re not a veteran team that can take three or four games off and expect to come back and keep the rhythm.” – Dwane Casey on what the team needs to clean up for the postseason
Raptors: Kyle Lowry (G), DeMar DeRozan (G), Terrence Ross (F), Amir Johnson (F), Jonas Valanciunas (C)
Knicks: Carmelo Anthony – strained right shoulder (out), Andrea Bargnani – torn ligament, left elbow (out), Kenyon Martin – sore left ankle (out)
By The Numbers: Raptors vs. Knicks
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