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Lowry and Calderon

Raptors (17-6) At Knicks (5-20) Preview

The hobbled 17-6 Toronto Raptors head to New York to face a 5-20 Knicks team that finally snapped their 10-game losing streak on Friday night in Boston.

The Raptors have gone 4-3 since DeMar DeRozan went down with a groin strain two weeks ago, but one of those loses one was in overtime and the other two were against the Cavaliers. Toronto has shown no signs of letting bad teams get the better of them and New York is one of this season’s truly bad teams.

The Knicks only recently got Carmelo Anthony back from a sore knee, however, Andrea Bargnani remains sidelined with a calf strain (that seems like that would be the fourth calf strain in 4 years), rookie Cleanthony Early remains out following knee surgery and now the Knicks have to work through missing J.R. Smith (partially torn plantar fascia in left foot) and Iman Shumpert (dislocated left shoulder). Expectations for New York were never very high to begin with, but now they are nonexistent.

The Raptors remain one of the top two scoring teams in the NBA at 108.4 points per game even without DeRozan and New York has shown few signs of being able to stop anyone from scoring. The really bad news for the Knicks is besides Anthony no one else has been a reliable offensive contributor. The Knicks average 94 points per game and play little to no defense. They are full measure for their winning percentage of 20.

Anthony leads the Knicks at 22.8 points per game followed by the Amare Stoudemire (13.5), the injured Smith (10.3), the sophomore Hardaway (9.6) and the injured Shumpert (9.3). There is no easily identified scorer in the Knicks reserves that could replace the scoring of the injured players.

After DeRozan (19.4 points per game) was sidelined, Kyle Lowry stepped up to become the leading scorer (19.7) for Toronto. Lou Williams is averaging 14.4 points off the bench and has had two 26 point games in his last three. Jonas Valanciunas (12), Terrence Ross (11.7) and Amir Johnson (10.1) are regular double-digit contributors, however, the Raptors have three more players coming off the bench that can also put up big numbers on any given night. Toronto isn’t a team opponents can focus on just one or two offensive threats this season.

Provided Toronto doesn’t play down to the level of their opponent and allow the Knicks to set the pace to their preferred slow crawl, the Raptors should easily win this contest in a double-digit blowout.

The big things most fans in Toronto will be watching for – besides former Raptors Jose Calderon and Quincy Acy – will be if Head Coach Dwane Casey activates rookie Bruno Caboclo and gets him some burn during what should be a meaningless fourth quarter.

The only real opponent the Raptors will be facing in New York will be their own complacency. If Toronto plays their game at their pace, the Knicks will only be able to stand around and watch.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

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On Sunday Toronto travels to New York to face the 4-20 Knicks. On a 10 game losing streak, the Knicks have lost the most games in the Association. Carmelo Anthony has a sore knee and is questionable. J.R. Smith has a sore heel and the Knicks are in a general state of complete disarray.