The Knicks have won three in a row and look to continue the momentum at home as the Raptors go to New York for a visit. Kinnon Yee takes a look at the Knicks recent troubles and return to form over the last three games.
That being said, only six games separate the Raptors and the Knicks and the Knicks are just struggling to make it back to .500; a position that they were in when last theses two teams met.
It was little more than a month ago, but with the entire NBA in the thrall of Linsanity, the Knicks were the toast of the NBA and everyone couldn't wait to get a seat at MSG. Mike D'antoni was the coach. Carmelo was out with injury.
A month must seem like a lifetime ago for the Knickerbockers.
However, it's a lesson that I think Raptors fans need to take to heart. Here's a team that has no shortage of talent, and no shortage of payroll, yet they just can't seem to put it all together.
Then again, I think Raptors fans have already seen this previously during the Chris Bosh era. It's not enough just to bring all the parts together; if they don't all fit and fulfill their individual roles, the team just won't work.
Which gives our boys tonight more than a fair share at stopping the Knicks current three game streak and the momentum they've gained from the streak. Keep in mind though, that this streak was built on two wins against the Pacers, and one against the Trailblazers.
After dueling the Knicks to a last second shot by Jeremy Lin, the Raptors should feel confident about their chances today. In my opinion, the Knicks have gained some momentum from their coaching change and seem to have figured out how to get along for now, but this is also still essentially the same team that went into a tail spin over two of the last three weeks. It's really going to come down to execution on the Raptors part.
1) Stopping the Drive - For about half a game, the Raptors did a pretty good job keeping Jeremy Lin in check. They basically laid the groundwork down for how other teams would eventually try and handle Lin which was to pressure him into his off shooting hand and to be physical with Lin throughout the game. The Raptors need to do it for 48 minutes tonight.
2) Turnovers - By being physical with Lin, it'll also give the Raptors more opportunities for steals and transition buckets; something that Lin is still weak against. On the other hand, the Raptors themselves have often shot themselves in the foot when it comes to turnovers, and against the Knicks, it's going to be another item they're going to need to take care of. Lost possessions are going to really make it difficult for the Raptors to recover and keep the pressure on the Knicks.
3) Towers vs Towers - Tonight will be a big test for Andrea Bargnani. While he's been very so-so since his return, if the Raptors hope to make it out with a win, Bargnani is going to have to overcome the New York front court tonight. Earlier in the year, Bargnani managed to score 20 against the Knicks, but he did so without Amare Stoudemire in the lineup. Tonight is going to be a different story as Stoudemire has been a constant thorn in the Raptors' side over the years. Andrea Bargnani also can't put in the same effort on the glass that he has been over the last few games, otherwise the Raptors are just going to be eaten up by both Tyson Chandler and Stoudemire all night long.