Photo Credit: Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images
The Toronto Raptors return to Madison Square Garden this afternoon as they are set to face off against the New York Knicks for the second time this month. The Raptors will look to take the season series in this third and final matchup against the Knicks this year.
The Knicks took the previous matchup against the Raps just 12 days ago by a score of 102-96. Since then, the Knicks have been on a roll, currently on an eight game win streak and sitting comfortably at fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 33-27 record.
The Raptors push for the final play-in spot continues as they are currently on a four game win streak for the first time since mid February. Now with a 25-34 record in the East, the Raps are tied with the Chicago Bulls and only a game behind the Washington Wizards for the final spot. The Raptors were able to beat the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday without Kevin Durant and James Harden, and will look to snap the Knicks’ hot streak.
The game will be a tough test, with the Knicks playing some of their best basketball in recent years. The Knicks are led by Julius Randle who is playing at an All-Star level this season, on a mission to restore the team’s image. Randle is coming off an impressive 40 point game Wednesday night over the Atlanta Hawks and is currently averaging 23.9 PPG, 10.5 RPG and 6.1 APG this season. The Raps will have to do their best to contain Randle, as the Knicks offense primarily runs through him. The team will also try their best to matchup against former 2011 MVP Derrick Rose. The dynamic guard has become an important role player for the Knicks with Alec Burks out (COVID-19 protocol) and is averaging 20.0 PPG and 4.3 APG over his last three games.
Unfortunately for the Raptors, Chris Boucher was diagnosed with a sprained MCL he sustained against the Nets on Wednesday. In the meantime, the Raps will rely on Freddie Gillespie and Khem Birch in the frontcourt during Boucher’s absence.
The Raptors have yet to announce any potential rests for this game so expect to see Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Kyle Lowry all suited up and ready to try and continue the winning streak. Paul Watson Jr. and Rodney Hood remain day-to-day while Jalen Harris (hip) remains out for this afternoon’s game.
Make sure to tune into the game on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. EST.