Obi Toppin scored a career-high 42 points for the Knicks, and punctuated his big night with a monster slam with 90 seconds to go that sealed the win. He and the other “future of the Knicks” prospect, Immanuel Quickley (who finished with 34 points, 9 boards and 12 assists), showed Knicks fans that they might just have something to cheer for… next season.
As for the Raptors, the big news here is that no one got hurt! A win would have been nice, but the team was locked into the fifth seed already and, rest was on the menu.
As such, the Raptors gave Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam the night off, to get them a little fresher heading into the postseason. The Raptors were also without head coach Nick Nurse; no specific reason was given, though the Raptors confirmed it wasn’t health-related. Guess coaches need rest too!
Chris Boucher led the Raptors with 21 points and seven rebounds, and Gary Trent Jr. chipped in 21.
OG Anunoby got the start, and played a quiet nine minutes in the first quarter, picking up three boards and two assists, but failing to get a shot off. He got on the board with a couple of free throws late in the second, and finished with 8 points and nine boards.
Overall, Anunoby looked a step slow, but it’s not clear if that’s because his conditioning was off, or because he was disengaged from this meaningless basketball. I’m gonna go with both!
Although nothing the Raptors did mattered in the end, results elsewhere did have an impact. Thanks to the Boston Celtics defeating the Memphis Grizzlies, the Raptors now know for sure that they will face the fourth-place Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, starting Saturday.
(We’ll have full series previews and coverage at Raptors HQ, of course!)
The Raptors got off to a slow start against the Knicks , trailing 14-5 five minutes in, and fell behind by as many as 14, 26-12, before the first quarter was two-thirds done.
But Boucher hit a three, Malachi Flynn hit a three, and Boucher dropped a lovely fast break dime to Trent, who flushed it, cutting New York’s lead to 8. A Flynn putback cut it to 6, but Quickley drained a late three, giving New York a 31-22 lead after one quarter.
The Raps opened the second on a 4-0 run, including a beautiful alley-oop pass from Flynn to Achiuwa.
Chris Boucher was he human fast break in the first half, grabbing defensive rebounds and turning and running on three separate occasions. One led to a terribly awkward runner that missed, but the other two led to the aforementioned Trent dunk and an insane two-handed and-1 from Boucher himself.
Two plays later, the Raptors finally took the lead; first, they cut New York’s lead down to three, 35-32 on a Thad Young corner three, then a minute Trent followed with another triple to draw even. It was Young who then stole a Toppin pass and dished it ahead to Flynn, who finished a lefty layup that gave Toronto the 37-35 lead. The teams traded buckets from there, until a Toppin banked-in three before the buzzer gave the Knicks a 3-point lead, 51-48.
The late triple gave Toppin a game-high 23 points at halftime.
Quickly and Toppin paced the Knicks to a 9-point lead halfway through the third; the Raptors climbed back when Thad Young came in to replace the somnambulant Anunoby. Barnes and Young connected on a nice-give-and-go that led to a Barnes dunk with two minutes to go that cut New York’s lead back to four.
Late buckets from Trent and Boucher got it all the way down to 1, 73-72, heading into the fourth.
The Raptors took the lead back 78-75 on a Brooks three — his first bucket of the game — but the Knicks took it back two minutes later on a Quickley three. From there, the Raptors went cold — and Toppin and Quickley stayed hot. The paid combined for 23 fourth-quarter points, and the Knicks won the frame 32-22, and that was the ballgame.
From here, the Raptors will have five full days off before they face the 76ers next weekend. As there is currently a hockey game scheuedl for Sunday afternoon in Philly, we can safely wager that Raps-Sixers will start on Saturday, likely in the early afternoon.
As we all know by now, 76ers wing Matisse Thybulle has chosen not to get vaccinated, and does not currently meet the vaccination requirements for cross-border travel. Thus, he will miss any games in Toronto.
The Raptors should be in full health heading into the series.
Look out for a full preview and more coverage soon!