Photo Credit: Associated Press Photo/Chris O’Meara
The Toronto Raptors are back in action tonight as they face off against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. On the second night of a back-to-back, the Raps are looking to close out the week on a strong note before they return to Tampa Bay for a five game home stand.
Tonight will be the second of three matchups against the Knicks this season. The Raps came away with a 100-83 win in their first matchup back on New Year’s Eve. Since then, the Knicks have put together a solid season, currently sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 26-27 record.
With playoffs approaching, both teams are looking into tonight’s game to establish their respective positions. The Raptors are pushing to secure the final play-in spot, sitting just 2 games behind the Chicago Bulls for the tenth spot in the East. Meanwhile, the Knicks are playing some of their best basketball in recent years and are in playoff contention for the first time since 2013. The Raptors have a tough test tonight as the Knicks hold the third best defensive rating in the league and are ranked first in opponent points allowed per game.
The Raptors main focus for tonight will be trying to contain Julius Randle. Randle is having a career year this season and is the main reason for the Knicks success. He is currently averaging 22.8 PPG, 10.7 RPG and 6.1 APG this season and coming off a 15 point, 10 rebound and 11 assist triple-double from Friday night against Memphis. The Raps also can’t forget about RJ Barrett and his great offensive play over the last week. The Canadian is finding his groove as a key scoring threat for the Knicks, averaging 23.6 points over his last three games and showing promising development in his sophomore season.
Fred VanVleet remains without a timetable (strained hip flexor) while Kyle Lowry (foot) is downgraded to questionable for tonight’s game. Expect to see more action for Gary Trent Jr. and Malachi Flynn in the starting rotation. The Raptors rested Pascal Siakam in last night’s game and will look to integrate him back into the starting unit for this one. Paul Watson Jr. (COVID-19 protocols) and Jalen Harris (hip) both remain out for tonight’s game.
Catch tip off at 8:00 p.m. EST on Sportsnet.