In case anyone needed a reminder on what happened last time these Atlantic division rivals squared off, New York won 119-106 as Toronto’s three-point shooting continued to be their downfall. Remarkably, the Raptors shooting in the loss to the Knicks mirrored their output in their last outing against the Hornets. In both games, Toronto shot 6/32 from deep for only 18.8%.
The loss marked the start of a three game skid for the Raptors and capped off a three game win streak for the Knicks, before New York dropped their next two games to the Bucks and Celtics. On top of losing back to back games, the Knicks have also lost their starting centre Mitchell Robinson, who will undergo surgery on his ankle and be out for a minimum of 8-10 weeks.
The Knicks have posted a top-10 defence to this point in the season, with Robinson as their anchor and a huge paint presence. Taking his place will be seven-footer Isaiah Hartenstein, who has only started eight games with the Knicks across his two seasons with the team, and has never scored more than four points against the Raptors in that same span.
Injuries may continue to plague New York as both their starting and backup point guards, Jalen Brunson and Immanuel Quickley, both landed on the injury report today as questionable for tonight’s matchup. Brunson has torched the Raptors since joining New York, and posted 22 points for the team lead in their win over Toronto just over a week ago. Guard play dominated the Raptors, as New York’s guards combined for 70 points in the matchup.
Toronto’s guards need to step up regardless of the matchup, with Dennis Schroder struggling recently and Gary Trent Jr. coming off a point-less outing. Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes have continued to lead the way throughout the team’s struggles, with one of the two leading the team in scoring in all of Toronto’s last six games. The pair also finished one-two in team scoring in their last outing against Charlotte, and in the loss to New York just over a week ago. They’ll need to continue their scoring prowess tonight as the Raptors will look to end their losing skid in the mecca of basketball.
TV Info: 7:30pm ET, TSN
Toronto: Dennis Schroder, Scottie Barnes, O.G. Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl
New York: Jalen Brunson, Quentin Grimes, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Isaiah Hartenstein
Toronto: Christian Koloko (Out - Respiratory), Otto Porter Jr. (Out - Foot)
New York: Mitchell Robinson (Out - Ankle), Jalen Brunson (Questionable - Ankle), Immanuel Quickley (Questionable - Knee)
Get OG Involved Early
There’s no hiding that Toronto’s three-point shooting has been abysmal of late, they’ve shot 18.8% from three in two of their last three games. The one game in that stretch where they had success was against Miami, where they looked to OG for three consecutive baskets in the first quarter, two of them being threes. OG is clearly the best shooter in the starting lineup (though Scottie has challenged him for the title as of late), posting a 38.8% three-point percentage for the team lead. If they can get OG involved and knocking down shots early, it not only adds extra points to the board but forces the defence to close out on the perimeter, opening up the paint for the rest of the team to go to work.
Starting Lineup Woes
At the time of posting this, there seems to be no indication that Darko Rajakovic is making an adjustment to the starting lineup. Starting point guard Dennis Schroder has struggled shooting as of late, and has forced way too many shots both early and late in games. If this is going to be the starting lineup for the foreseeable future, Schroder needs to take advantage of a smaller backcourt in New York, get into the paint to score at the rim, and know when to delegate and when to get his shots up.
Legal Action Ongoing
While not involved in the game tonight, you may remember that New York still has an active lawsuit against the Raptors, accusing an assistant coach of stealing proprietary information. While the Raptors have dismissed the accusations and filed for the case to be thrown out, the last I’ve seen regarding the matter was Knicks owner James Dolan’s outburst against the NBA and claiming $10 million in damages that the Raptors owe him. I guess we’ll see tonight if there is any mention of the drama off the court as all discussions on the topic seem to have gone quiet.