You may not remember this in all the glory of the last few weeks, but the last time the Toronto Raptors met the New York Knicks for a basketball skirmish, it was the Knicks coming out on top. That was back in November, a 111-109 New York win where Carmelo Anthony dropped 35 points and the Raptors played some of their worst defense of the season.
Tonight, they look to exact a bit of revenge on their Atlantic Division foes, now sitting at 22-24. Or maybe they don't remember that game? Who knows. Tonight is the second of four meetings between the two teams and the last at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors are going for their tenth straight win, which would be a franchise record. The stakes are high. Here are a few keys to watch for.
Keep tabs on Carmelo Anthony
Leading his team in scoring 30 times this season, the Knicks may be without the services of Carmelo Anthony for the second straight game with knee soreness. Missing out on the Anthony experience would severely hurt the Knicks, and would make it all the more important for the Raptors to get off to a hot start and hold a lead throughout.
Continued fire from the bench
After jamming his wrist in Tuesday's game against Washington, Kyle Lowry is also questionable for this one and it'll take a team effort to replace his output if he's out. Luckily, Toronto got a return to form from Cory Joseph in that very game, getting ten points and six assists while slashing at will.
Along with Joseph, the Raptors could use some more hot shooting from Terrence Ross and Patrick Patterson. The two are a combined 43.8 percent from three-point range in January, ranking fourth and fifth respectively in the NBA for bench players. The bench overall has outscored their opponents by an average of 53 points in the last seven games. The hot streak has become a trend, and if the Raptors' starters are going to get any rest tonight, it'll need to keep going that way.
Slow down the big men
While Kristaps Porzingis continues to be beloved by NBA Twitter, there is another reason to enjoy the Knicks' frontcourt of late. Derrick Williams, that guy who was drafted Kyrie Irving in the 2011 draft, has quietly rounded into a decent scorer. He's had 18 points in three of the last four Knicks games, even dropping 31 in a matchup with Brooklyn earlier in the month. Williams will be challenge for the Raptors' frontcourt, who will also have Porzingis' floor-stretching ability to deal with. The Latvian big man was once again named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December, with 12.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game.
All in all, this may whisper trap game, but a pair of game-time decisions will really decide how competitive this game gets. Without Anthony, the Knicks aren't likely to have the firepower to compete with the Raptors. If Lowry is gone too, though, more pressure will be put on DeMar DeRozan to get it done. Check back in throughout the day, we'll keep you updated on the injuries headed to game time.
Where To Watch: Sportsnet One, 8:00 p.m. EST