The work-in-progress that is the 2013-14 Toronto Raptors get a chance to further figure out exactly who they are when they host last year's division champion New York Knicks at the Air Canada Centre tonight.
The Knicks are one of the more intriguing teams in the league going into this season. They have a few enigmatic scorers and an ageing roster so things will surely be interesting in New York. Have we actually managed to get this far without discussing the number one pick of the 2006 NBA Draft? Andrea Bargnani will be making his return to Toronto and he'll be sure to hear some jeers from the crowd.
Mike Woodson recently spoke of his delight about a player who forever divided opinion north of the border and recently made Bargnani his starting power forward.
"I like everything about him," Woodson said after a recent victory over the Celtics. "That was the reason we brought him over. I think he's a talented kid who knows how to play."
It will be interesting to see how the Bargnani experiment plays out in the Big Apple and he seems to be developing some early chemistry with All Star Carmelo Anthony.
Here are the three keys to a Raptors win:
- Starters must show up: The starting core of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas was one of the more productive units in the association last campaign. The unfortunate reality as that this group didn't spend enough time on the court together. If the Raptors are to be a playoff team in the 2013-2014 season than it is imperative that this starting unit remain healthy.
- Turnovers: It's the preseason so this is pretty self explanatory. Turnovers aren't a good thing when a team is trying to win basketball games. Simple
- Defend from Deep: The Knicks were one of the better three-point shooting teams in the league last season and have a number of players that can stroke it from distance. Bargnani, Anthony, Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Pablo Prigioni can all hit three balls and it will be up to the Raptors' players to close out these shooters so they don't get open looks.