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Game Preview: Knicks vs Raptors, 4/11/2021

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Front end of a back-to-back

Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Knicks are in control of the eighth spot in the playoff race right now and going up against the eleventh place Raptors in what is setting up to be only critical games going forward. There is literally no room for major missteps the rest of the season. Treading water won’t be enough to let their seed sprout. If the Raptors are hunting you down, with the Pacers and revamped Bulls in the pack you need to make sure you win all of those matchups. Thankfully the Celtics, Heat, Hawks and Hornets are 2 games or less ahead of New York. So there is plenty of room to take up if they want it.

Wanting it has been a big issue for the Raptors this year. Struggling to stay mentally prepared, playing their home games in Tampa Bay. It’s taken a toll on their fans.

Ah yes, I know that feeling very well. On the court the Raps have been confounding.

Ultimately that tells me this is a team you can dunk on, but not one you can take lightly.

New York Knicks v Toronto Raptors Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images

Projected Starters

The Raptors had a game yesterday in Cleveland and a lot of guys sat. Perhaps thinking they could squeeze by the Cavs in preparation of loading up to face the Knicks. There was no Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry or Pascal Siakam. Lowry is considered probable today after being questionable for yesterday. Siakam didn’t dress for rest, which is basically me everyday for the past year.

Elfrid Payton v Kyle Lowry

Reggie Bullock v Gary Trent Jr.

RJ Barrett v OG Anunoby

Julius Randle v Pascal Siakam

Nerlens Noel v Chris Boucher

Despite being drivers of success in the Knicks comeback win over Memphis, Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley will likely slide back to their bench roles. When the game grinds down to just a few possessions, Quickley’s floor spacing one pass away from Julius Randle is one of the most lethal poisons the Knicks can put on the dart. The lineup that carried New York down the stretch of the fourth quarter with was Quickley, Barrett, Randle and some combination of Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks and Derrick Rose.

Now imagine Quick, RJ, Truck Jules and Mitchell Robinson but with Gary Trent Jr. sprinting around a throwing knives.

That shit would be hard. Dung crispy.

BKN-RAPTORS-KNICKS Photo by HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP via Getty Images

Keys & Predictions

You know how it seems like Reggie Bullock has had it going lately and RJ Barrett as been able to get hot, even hitting six triples a couple games back. Well, have you seen what Gary Trent Jr. has been doing for the Raptors?

That fucking guy shot 17-19 for 44 points last night and the Trail Blazers traded him. The Knicks should definitely back up the truck if Trent will open the gates to the driveway. Spot up and movement shooting with a smattering of frisky defense would open up a lot of court space for the hard driving Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. Therefore it is imperative that the Knicks stifle Trent’s value and hold him to zero points.

One problem the Knicks have been really struggling with of late is offensive boards. Teams have been careening in for all the rebounds and reloads. Toronto Bay is a bottom third offensive rebounding team but the Knicks will still have to show more activity to close out possessions because while the Raptors might not get a ton of offensive boards, they do take a lot of threes, 40.3 a game. Long shots beget long rebounds. The Knicks might be well served to run the Raptors off the line and funnel them into help.

Game is 8:00, Knicks by -20.

New York Knicks v Toronto Raptors Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images

Parting Shot

Putting some space between yourselves and one of the playin stragglers will be a veritable necessity. Stay razor sharp, raise up and knock it down. Tomorrow they face the Lakers who just knocked off those pesky Nets. Two games in two nights but both are at home and they need both wins. Let’s go Knicks!

Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images