Monday, January 2, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Toronto Raptors - Preview

Tonight the Knicks are back home to play the Toronto Raptors. Coming off of a blowout win over the Sacarmento Kings, the Knicks will try and move above .500.

The Raptors are playing the second night of a back-to-back after losing to the Orlando Magic last night. The Raptors have mostly the same roster as last year, but have a multitude of offensive threats that could give the Knicks all they can handle.

Take the jump for some notes on the game and the Raptors' scouting report! 

The Kncks offense looked rejuvenated and refocused in their win over the Kings Saturday night. Amar'e Stoudemire sat out with a sprained ankle and Josh Harrellson took his place as the starting power forward, and what resulted was the Knicks' best performance of the season.

Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Harrellson, and Tyson Chandler all had 14 points or more, and the floodgates seemed to open up, as they knocked down six 3-pointers in the first quarter, and gave them enough momentum to coast in for a win.

Here are some things to look for tonight:
  • Will Amar'e Stoudemire play? Al Iannazzone tweeted that Stoudemire will be a game-time decision with his bum ankle. If he does play, will the offense look as crisp as it did against Sacramento? Or if he doesn't play, can Josh Harrellson and others pick up the slack in Stoudemire's place?
  • Which Toney Douglas will we see? Douglas had arguably his best game of this young season, scoring 17 points and dishing out 8 assists. He started off hot by making his first three 3-pointers and that seemed to get him going. Also, he notably had good chemistry with Tyson Chandler in the pick-and-roll, which is so vital to the Knicks' offense because it opens up the whole floor.
  • Landry Fields? It's the continuous Landry bullet point! Which Landry will we see tonight? Against the Kings, he looked like the Rookie of the Month from last season that endeared himself to Knicks fans with his all-out hustle and diverse scoring game. He attacked the rack and once again excelled in the fast break, getting some easy buckets. Fields makes a big difference for this team when his game is on.
  • How will Tyson Chandler fare against Andrea Bargnani? Bargnani ("Barnyarny" in Clyde talk) is one of the best offensive centers in the league, can stretch the floor, but also create off the dribble. Can Tyson stop a center like him? Likewise, Bargnani is pretty abysmal defensively. Will Tyson take advantage of that on offense?
Toronto Raptors Scouting Report
  • DeMar DeRozan emerged last season as one of the best scoring wings in the league. However, DeMar believes his name needs to be even more unique in order to lead the league in scoring. He's currently waiting for the Raptors' decision to put his whole name on his jersey, spelled "deM@r DEr0z@N".
  • The Ratpors acquired free agent center Aaron Gray this offseason, and have been trying to implement him into the offensive gameplan, but to no avail. Gray refuses to receive passes from Jose Calderon, because he thinks Jose's last name is "Cauldron", and therefore thinks Jose is a witch. Any pass that he throws is actually an evil spell.
  • Solomon Alibi, the Raptors' second-year big man, believes his name is dervied from Saruman, the evil wizard from Lord of the Rings. He comes to each game dressed in grey and white robes, carrying a large staff, and tries to command the locker room the way Saruman commanded the army of orcs. So far, his message has only been received by Anthony Carter, who has fully embraced the role of an orc. Linas Kleiza is hesistant, but starting to buy into the concept.
Now you are prepared for tonight's game with the Raptors! I probably won't be around to catch the game live, so I'll watch MSG's replay or Knicks in 60 later in the night. Feel free to use this post as a thread for any gametime action!

Go Knicks!

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