Game Preview: Raptors @ Knicks

Which Raptors Team Will We See?  It was a tough time to take a mini-break for the Raptors, who were playing some of their best basketball of the season before a brief holiday break. They’re 4-2 since newly-acquired players from the Kings joined the lineup and head coach Dwane Casey has said he sees the mental toughness growing with his group.

That includes some surprising wins against Western Conference powers in the Thunder and Mavs last week, but how will the Raptors respond after a couple days off against Eastern Conference foes? The Raptors’ next 11 games come against teams in the East, with only three of those matchups coming against teams that are currently over .500 (Pacers, twice, and Heat).

Knicks Can Claw Back In Atlantic: Much has been made about the Knicks supposed downturn this season, but all it would take is back-to-back NY wins in this home-and-home series and they would find themselves right back in the thick of things in the Atlantic Division. Based on Thursday’s practice in New York, it’s clear that’s how the Knicks are viewing this opportunity.

“We’re sitting here three games out,” said Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said at the Knicks’ practice on Thursday. “In our last 12, we’re 6-6 so we are playing a little bit better basketball based on all the injuries we’ve had. But tomorrow’s game is an important game because they sit at the top of the division.”

Those injury issues Woodson mentioned are likely to persist tonight. Carmelo Anthony, who averaged  27.3 points 8.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists in four games against the Raptors last season, remains day-to-day with a sprained right ankle and is questionable to play tonight. At point guard, the Knicks will continue to be shorthanded, with Raymond Felton (strained right groin) and Pablo Prigioni (right toe fracture) are both officially listed as out for tonight’s game.

Lowry Red Hot: With the Knicks somewhat thin at point guard, it could present an excellent opportunity for Kyle Lowry to continue his recent run.

Lowry is coming off a third straight 20-point performance for a second time this season (he’s now got eight 20+ point scoring efforts on the campaign), but he’s also remained the team’s best distributor. At an even seven assists per game, he enters tonight’s game 10th in the league in that category and has dished out at least six assists in a career-high 18 straight games.

By The Numbers: Raptors @ Knicks

Team Comparison
2013-14 AVERAGES 2013-14 RANKINGS
TOR NYK   TOR NYK
PPG 99.3 94.9 PPG 18 25
FG% .434 .430 FG% 23 25
3FG% .342 .349 3FG% 23 20
FT% .781 .769 FT% 7 11
OFF 12.2 10.6 OFF 7 20
DEF 30.8 28.5 DEF 20 30
REB 42.9 39.0 REB 14 29
AST 18.7 20.2 AST 29 22
STL 7.1 8.4 STL 22 7
TO 14.8 12.2 TO 11 1
BLK 4.6 4.7 BLK 19 16

Last Time They Met: It’s been an odd year for matchups between the Raptors and Knicks. The Raptors face them a total of eight times in the 2013 Calendar year, although tonight represents the first of four 2013-14 regular season meetings. They’ll meet again at ACC on Saturday, but then won’t see each other again until near season’s end in April.

The last time they met? The Raptors got 27 points from Terrence Ross (including six 3-pointers) as they outlasted the Knicks 123-120 in a wild preseason game at ACC on Oct. 21st.

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