The offense actually isn’t as bad as you might think; the Raptors are first in the league in Assist Ratio 18%, 5th in true shooting 55.9% and 11th in offensive efficiency 103. This all starts with Calderon at the point, who is orchestrating like a maestro (lame I know, sorry). He’s keeping the pace down, but that looks to be the only way this team can compete on a game-to-game basis. Toney Douglas will check Jose tight on defense, not giving him much room to operate; he will have to play a tight 1-2 with Bargnani in the high post to manufacture scoring opportunities for the rest of the team. Douglas is less of a threat off the bounce, but can hit those open jumpers that opposing teams seem to be getting from the Raptors so far this season. Jose looked gassed yesterday against the Magic, and with that game that coming aggressively coming down to the wire, and Bayless not in the lineup tonight, he’s gonna be ridden like Joey (great movie btw) which never bodes well for him.
I like DeMar, I want him to succeed, but he really needs to step up his offensive efficiency: 8-24 from the field over the last two games; unacceptable. He’s had his hands full with quality shooting guards, but that’s really no excuse; hand down man down, right? A lot of his problem comes from not taking the ball to the rack. He’s been to the line 6 times in four games, a super low number for a guy with his ball handling and athletic ability. Landry Fields is a perimeter wing, but has a nice touch from outside (he was a solid pick up for me last year in fantasy). Without Stoudemire in the lineup, DeMar wont have to collapse defensively as much, and can stay at home on Landry. Don’t give up open shots, and battle on the boards like he did against the Magic, and he’ll be fine.
Butler/Johnson have been having problems with the likes of Turkoglu and Marion, Melo is going to drop 30 tonight. Transition defense is going to kill the Raptors tonight if they don’t pick up guys early and stick with him. Anthony is one of the most lethal scorers in the league in the first 7 seconds of the shot clock. With Amare out, there’s going to be much more offensive burden put on his shoulders, which he’s more than happy to take on. Restricting ball movement, and forcing Melo into tough shots he’ll probably still hit is the best strategy here.
Amare is out for tonight which is a godsend for Bargnani defensively. Don’t know anything about his rookie replacement Josh Harrellson other than he was able to drop 14pts 12rebs on an equally talent thin Kings squad. Can’t read that much into that performance since Cousins had demanded a trade and JJ Hickson has been an absolute flop (killed me for a couple days in fantasy this year) so far. Andrea puts up 32pts/10rebs/2blk, book it. As far as Ed Davis goes, I have no idea where the guy went. It’s like he’s hit the wall, but it’s only been 4 games; don’t’ get it. This game will give Ed opportunities to bang on the boards, and make things happen; he just needs to want to do it.
I still feel jipped by Jordan’s take-back on that trade, especially after he turned around and sent him to Dallas for crap….bah, whatever. He’s come as advertised for the Knicks, shoring up the front court with some sorely needed defense and the occasional alley-oop. This should be an easier match-up for Amir since Tyson isn’t as physical as Howard, but his agility will hurt definitely bother our boy.
The Knicks are 8 point favourites with an over/under of 200; sounds about right. The Magic loss was not only a tough one to swallow, but the Raptors had to play Bargnani and Calderon more than they should have, taking away some juice from their tank for tonight. This one really has the chance to get ugly if Melo is feeling it.