It’s too early to panic, but the mood around the Toronto Raptors can best be defined as concerned heading into 2021.
After an 0-3 start has seen the team blow double-digit leads in each game, the Raptors are looking for answers in multiple places. Thankfully, a friendly matchup lobs them a softball to finish what’s been a tumultuous 2020 — the Knicks await Toronto in Amalie Arena tonight.
The Raptors have dominated this matchup in recent years, to the tune of winning 16 of the last 17 dating back to January 2016 and eight straight overall. That said, there hasn’t been a Raptors-Knicks game like this since 2016 — and far before it — where New York comes in with a better record (2-2) and maybe a bit more positivity. The early season play of Julius Randle has been a bright spot for a franchise that desperately needs one — his last outing saw him drop a monster 28 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in a win against previously undefeated Cleveland. (Related: what is going on in the NBA??)
Injuries are mounting for the Knicks, though. To add to a list that includes scoring wing Dennis Smith Jr. and spark plug Frank Ntilikina, the team will be missing both Alec Burks and rookie Immanuel Quickley on Thursday — both of whom were questionable this morning.
Burks and Quickley are out, per Knicks PR. So NYK missing 6 tonight.— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) December 31, 2020
For the Raptors, we know what we need to see. After three straight collapses in the second half, a full 48-minute effort is needed. It’d be nice to see Pascal Siakam find a way to stay productive in the waning moments of the game. And maybe, just maybe, we get our first regular season minutes for Malachi Flynn. He might not be a saviour, but there’s enough intrigue there, and a general need to start treading water when Kyle Lowry isn’t on the floor.
Here’s the game details — let’s watch.
Where to Watch
Sportsnet, 7:30 PM ET
Toronto [UPDATED] — Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Aron Baynes
New York — Elfrid Payton, RJ Barrett, Reggie Bullock, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson
Toronto — Patrick McCaw (out - knee)
New York — Omari Spellman (out - knee), Dennis Smith Jr. (out - quad), Frank Ntilikina (out - knee), Immanuel Quickley (out - hip), Alec Burks (out - ankle), Obi Toppin (out - calf)