Anyone else lifting their eyebrows after the moves the Knicks made? Donnie Walsh divined Malik Rose, Tim Thomas, Jerome James, Anthony Roberson and some cash into Chris Wilcox and Larry Hughes. That’s what a great GM does, he turns useless pieces into better ones that can contribute now without impacting future cap flexibility. Don’t get me wrong, BC almost did the same thing with the Marion/Banks trade, but the trade happened 6 months too late, and required two first round picks (and a 2nd rounder) to get it done. I’ll stop, I feel some of you groaning…
So the Raptors head into Gotham, on the first leg of the annual home-and-home with the Knicks. This will also mark the first time this season that the Raptors face the 7-seconds-or-less-Knicks, should be a fun one. I am actually really excited about the Knicks. It’s no secret that they are my second favourite team after the Raptors, dating back to the early 90’s when Ewing/Smith/Oakley/McDaniels/Starks all showed us what grit, toughness and determination was…something we have been lacking in Toronto for about 6 years now…sorry, I’ll stop, the groans are getting louder.
The Raptors head into this game 3-7 in their last 10, with a couple notable wins against the Spurs and the Nets (not really notable, but they are in the same division and between the Raptors and the 8th seed). Most recently, after the loooong All-Star break that saw Bosh playing Waldo in Phoenix instead of resting up, the Raptors got thumped by Z and the Cavs in their own house. Can’t blame them really, Bosh was injured and the Cavs are elite.
The Knicks on the other hand are 4-6 in their last 10, with a couple notable wins against the Spurs, Hawks, Rockets and Suns. In fact, they have double the wins then the Raptors do against quality opponents this season (I count 7). Their last win came after the All-Star game, where their lone representative was tea bagging Howard on route to the dunk title, against the Spurs.
Momentarily turning our attention towards the lovely Sarahbeth, who hails from Long Island and is a second year Knicks City Dancer (KCD). She holds Nicole Richie (NSFW) in such high esteem that her favourite quote is:
You just have to go after what you want and if it doesn’t want you back, then so be it, it doesn’t deserve you anyway
…no word of a lie…oh, and if you get close to her, don’t touch her with your feet, it freaks her out, gotta love New Yorkers man. Down to business…
Calderon vs Duhon
The Edge: Duhon - Is he injured? Is he healthy? Is he at least 91.6524%? With Marion patrolling the wing now, the rotations will be more effective, so when Duhon blows by JC, there will be help waiting, and there will help for the helper. I just don’t know how effective JC will be on the offensive end. Sure he will get a boost from his favourite recipient (Bosh), but 3asts to 3tos in a low tempo/half-court game? What is going to happen against these athletic Knicks? The guy wont be able to keep up, and the transition defense will be an issue, book it.
Parker vs Chandler
The Edge: Chandler – I don’t care what anyone says, I’m glad BC didn’t trade the guy. In a straight up scenario, we wouldn’t have gotten value for him. So what, trade him for the hell of it? Didn’t we learn our lesson with HO? I’d even go so far as to resign the guy to a 2yr/$5mil deal; can’t have enough classy veterans who can knock down shots in limited minutes. Anyways…Chandler is a nice player, who is younger, faster and more athletic then Parker. This matchup isn’t a run-away for Chandler, as I don’t have him edging AP out by much, but having to deal with Chandler, and Hughes off the bench, might be a bit too much for our weary war horse.
Marion vs Harrington
The Edge: Marion – They are both good players, Harrington is younger, but Marion is just as athletic and can hang with him. The only place I see Marion getting burned is when he rotates to help JC, and the ball gets swung to an open Harrington (because the rotation will be late to help) and Harrington will do something with it. That being said, with Bosh coming back, things will open up for Marion to operate around the basket unfettered as the focus will be Bosh and trying to stop the guy. I expect higher output from Shawn then the 10pts 6rebs 6asts he put up against the Cavs.
Bosh vs Lee
The Edge: Bosh - He’s expected to play, which usually means he has the advantage at 4. Lee is one of my favourites, and will be boxing Chris off the boards, and giving him that shot all night. I’m sure D’Antoni will take CB4 popping jumpers, no questions. 22pts 7rebs sound about right?
Bargnani vs Jeffries
The Edge: G.O.A.T. - It isn’t an accomplishment outplaying Jeffries. The guy isn’t a starting $6mil/year player in the league. He can thank Isiah for that one, and so can we. After a fairly poor showing against Ilguaskas, this is a perfect game/matchup for VL to rebound from. It’s not so much that Jeffries can’t keep up with our G.O.A.T., cause he can, it’s just that JJ is the kind of player that VL will have confidence against, and we all know that a confident VL is productive one.
The trades Walsh made make this team much deeper. Hughes or Wilcox wont be starting, but expect them to get significant burn, especially if Bargnani abuses Jeffries early. The lone saving grace is that Jamal Crawford is no longer a Knick, and wont be lighting us up, that dubious distinction no doubt falls to Robinson who will posterize somebody, my money is on Bargnani.
Couldn’t find odds from my regular sources, so I will go out on the line and give the home team 3.5, that seems about right.
Seeing as this is a home-and-home, I like a split on the two games, but for tonight, I’m going Knicks by 7.
Join us for Raptors Fan Friday’s at Philthy McNasty’s.