Some keys tonight as the Raptors return to Air Canada Centre to complete a home-and-home with the Knicks (7 PM ET, TSN2, TSN 1050, GET TICKETS)
The ‘Road Warriors’ Return Home: We’ve learned that this new version of the Raptors travels pretty well with wins in five of their last six road games, including Friday’s 95-83 win over the Knicks at MSG.
But as head coach Dwane Casey has referenced frequently this season, the Raptors need to a better job “taking care of home”. They’re just 4-8 at Air Canada Centre and while no one’s been able to pinpoint precisely why, some basic numbers help tell the story.
The new additions from the Kings could play a role in reversing those fortunes at home. Salmons, Vasquez and Patterson, in particular, have contributed to the Raptors’ 5-2 mark since joining the lineup, but that’s included only home game — a 104-102 OT defeat against the Charlotte Bobcats at Air Canada Centre on December 18th.
Barganani Makes Return To Air Canada Centre: One thing that may elicit a reaction from the home crowd tonight might be the return of Andrea Bargnani for his first regular season game as an opponent at Air Canada Centre (he was here twice in the preseason).
The former first overall pick got off to a great start against his former team on Friday, with 14 points, nine rebounds and a pair of blocks for good measure before halftime. Different story the rest of the way as he put up just four points and three rebounds in 17 second-half minutes.
Friday’s win featured a potent performance from Jonas Valanciunas, who posted 16 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. It’s the latest in a string of solid performances post-trade during which Valanciunas has seen an increase in minutes and more of a role in the offence.
Tonight’s rematch with the Knicks provides an interesting test for the second-year centre against a Knicks team (and former Defensive Player of the Year in Tyson Chandler) that will be trying to adjust to him tonight.
Knicks Continue To Deal With Injuries: It appears as though the Raptors will face a shorthanded Knicks squad again tonight as Carmelo Anthony (sprained left ankle) reportedly did not travel to Toronto.
Point guards Ray Felton (strained right groin) and Pablo Prigioni (fractured toe) are also both listed as out tonight against the Raptors.
DeMar’s Big Night: He’s been immortalized in figuring form before, but it’s the first DeMar DeRozan Bobblehead Night tonight. First 10,000 fans attending the game get one upon entry, so arrive early!
We took the prototype straight to DeMar’s teammates for their thoughts on the finished product…