Season Series: Raptors 2-0
Two of the Toronto Raptors’ final four games of the season are against the New York Knicks. The first will take place Friday night in Toronto, while the second will happen Wednesday night in New York on the final night of the NBA’s regular season. From there, Toronto will prepare for its first postseason after a five-year drought.
A victory on Friday would do more than give Toronto another W in the win column. It would clinch the Atlantic Division and also move the team to 47 wins, tying the franchise record. We’re a long way from the early days of the 2013-2014 season when the players were pelted with tanking questions day after day.
While Toronto has gone 2-0 against New York this season, the Knicks were without Carmelo Anthony in both of those games. Anthony will play against the Raptors on Friday, despite a sore shoulder.
What To Watch
Jonas Valanciunas: After a career night against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday (26 points, 10-for-14 from the field, 12 rebounds), look for Valanciunas to be active early against the Knicks. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry both pointed to Valanciunas’ increased confidence in recent weeks on the offensive end of the floor.
Toronto’s defence: After the Raptors defeated the Sixers on Wednesday, head coach Dwane Casey wanted to talk about the defence his team was not playing. As a defensive-minded coach, watching his team allow things to slide with their defensive schemes has not made him happy. Stressing that their postseason journey will be a short one if they don’t clean things up defensively, Casey will get another look at his team’s efforts against the Knicks on Friday.
J.R. Smith jacking threes: In New York’s last game, a 102-91 loss to the Miami Heat, Smith set an NBA record by attempting 22 three-pointers. He connected on 10 of them (a Knicks franchise record for most made threes in a game), and scored 32 points. Smith was just 1-for-6 from inside the arc. Expect Smith to let it fly if he finds himself beyond the arc with a glimpse at the hoop.
– “I see a hungry team, a team that’s shooting the ball well. Their offensive efficiency has gone up since they’ve gotten into the playoff race, shooting a truckload of threes and making ‘em. So again we have to guard the three-point line but at the same time with us we’ve gotta be able to guard individually, one-on-one defence, and that’s something when you’re guarding a guy like Carmelo [Anthony], a guy like J.R. Smith, it’s not easy to do.” – Dwane Casey on the challenge of facing the Knicks
– “We’ll see. We’ll see where he is. Pat [Patterson] is doing a good job. What I don’t wanna do is I want Amir [Johnson] to be healthy. We don’t want to go in two or three minutes and now you got your rotation messed up. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. He is a day-to-day thing. We want to make sure he’s 100 percent but if he’s not it’s gonna be on Pat, Tyler [Hansbrough] and Chuck [Hayes] to make sure they man that position.” – Casey on the game-time status of Amir Johnson
– “We really have to worry about the Knicks and what they do. Stick to our game plan and everything else will take care of itself.” – Terrence Ross on taking it day-by-day and not looking ahead
Raptors: Greivis Vasquez (G), DeMar DeRozan (G), Terrence Ross (F), Patrick Patterson (F), Jonas Valanciunas (C)
Knicks: Raymond Felton (G), J.R. Smith (G), Carmelo Anthony (F), Amar’e Stoudemire (F), Tyson Chandler (C)
Raptors: Kyle Lowry – sore left knee (day-to-day), Amir Johnson – sore right ankle (day-to-day)
Knicks: Carmelo Anthony – strained right shoulder (probable), Andrea Bargnani – torn ligament, left elbow (out), Kenyon Martin – sore left ankle (out)
By The Numbers: Raptors vs. Knicks
|2013-14 AVERAGES||2013-14 RANKINGS|
Last Time They Met: Raptors 115, Knicks 100 – Dec. 28th, 2013