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Game Preview: Knicks vs Raptors, 4/24/2021

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

How many lives does this streaky cat have? Currently in the fourth slot in the Eastern Conference.

Look at me, listen to what I said. Currently in the fourth slot in the Eastern Conference. Hold on... currently have the biggest winning streak in the league (I see you, Wizards) (I saw you, Celtics). There’s plenty of words on the current resurgence and I suggest you greedily feast on them.

The New York Knicks without their defensive anchor, Mitchell Robinson, for the majority of the year are still one of the top few defenses. Suck that defensive shot profile, Seth Partnow, you certified bozo. New York gets into teams and makes them worker much as hard as anyone in the NBA, it’s been that way since day one. Maybe them there analytics will regress until they mean something again. Broken clock, yada. You can’t solve a puzzle that has infinite variation with a blanket strategy.

NBA Basketball 2004 - Knicks vs. Raptors Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images

Projected Starters

The Raptors have been all over the place this Tampa Bay season, with players in and out of the lineup for injuries and that one illness that has been going around killing people. Playing stateside has kept them in the league but done a number on them mentally. The harsh reality of the multi-billion dollar business owners needing their yachts swabbed may have microwaved some leftover fish in the break room.

As the season winds down, they are mostly coming around to physical health and starting to come around to the identity they established in their championship run. Recently losing Chris Boucher to an MCL injury is the only thing of significance and while it may help the Knicks a bit, recently added Khem Birch doesn’t really slow down this monorail.

Elfrid Payton v Kyle Lowry

Reggie Bullock v Fred VanVleet

RJ Barrett v OG Anunoby

Julius Randle v Pascal Siakam

Nerlens Noel v Khem Birch

Despite no Alec Burks (COVID protocol) or Mitchell Robinson, the Knicks are about as healthy as it’s gonna get from here on out. Seemingly everyone sustained some kind of Solomon Hill infused laceration on Wednesday, they’ll need to be swift to avoid the Raptors’ claws today.

This brings me to one of my biggest pet peeves. Trim your stupid ass fingernails, people. You play basketball? You walk around anywhere in the world, having any kind of life? Chop them fuckers all the way down, palooka. I don’t think they need to be filed, buffed and painted or whatever the hell. Ya still gotta do what’s right. No one should scratch their stupid head or their funky ass, get a little shrimp turd under the nail and then go about your day slicing people open with your filthy, filthy shrapnel hands. Inexcusable! Filthy!

2000 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game 2: Toronto Raptors vs. New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Keys & Predictions

Oh if it isn’t our old friend, zone defense. The Raptors do about a good a job as anyone cycling in some zone coverages that flummox opponents and the Knicks haven’t ever fully figured out what they’re seeking against zones. Of course their hot shooting as a team has helped them along but they aren’t quite proficient enough in the types of threes they can get to be zone busters.

On top of that their defense is just an ice bath that players aren’t excited to jump into. They don’t generate a ton of events on defense with steals and blocks, as a result, they’re bottom in the league in transition shot attempts with a paltry 9.7 per game. New York is the only team averaging single digit transition shots. Meanwhile the Raptors are the opposite, third in the NBA in blocks (6.3 per game) and fifth in the league in both steals (8.4) as well as transition shots per game (16.0).

With Boucher out, perhaps the event creation is weakened and the Knicks can punish the rim a little more than the Raptors would like. Afternoon start time! I hope you’ve had your coffee.

Game is at 1:00, Knicks by -1.

Toronto Raptors’ Chris Childs and former teammate Latrell Sp Photo by Keith Torrie/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Parting Shot

The Knicks and a playoff run were an iconic duo back in the day. If they hold on to this spot, they might have the temperament to get to the second round. It’s been a hell of a year. I say, let’s get crazy.

BKN-KNICKS-RAPTORS-02 Photo credit should read AARON HARRIS/AFP via Getty Images