A brutal loss to the lowly Bobcats has some folks pretty pissed off; of their 7 wins this season, 2 of them have come against the Raptors…I’ll let that sink in for a minute…In all fairness, though, that poor showing against the worst team in the history of the NBA league has more to do with match-ups, than an indictment on the quality of the Raptors. I say this because the night before, the Raptors took the best of the Grizzlies, and sent them home packing. You could argue the weekend games should have played out differently, but the net result was the same. That said, it would have been nice to get that win, because over the next seven games, the Raptors play the Knicks Twice, the Bulls twice, the Magic, Nuggets and Heat; gonna be tough.

The Raptors and Knicks have split the first two outings of the year, with the last game ending in a Lin three point game winner:

Devastating, but it made for some damn exciting ball. Just for the record, Bayless wouldn’t have given the kid so much room.

Tonight’s Knicks will be a totally different look from the last two teams we saw this season; everyone is in the lineup, they’ve added depth to the bench, and after giving Woodson the coaching reigns (I’m so not a fan of the guy, never thought he would be coaching again), the Knicks have gone on a three game winning streak; looking the part of a team with two all-stars and a defending champ defensive anchor in its lineup.

I went back and forth with Jon from Knicksfan.net about the new new-look Knicks:

Sam: Woodson takes over a team, and they promptly go on a 3 game winning streak; what’s different?
Jon: Honestly, it really boils down to effort and attention to detail. Since Woodson took over there’s been a palpable surge in the team’s energy level, particularly Melo and Amar’e, who are supposed to be the ones setting the tone for the entire team (in reality, that job falls on Chandler and, to a lesser extent, Lin and Jeffries).

The Knicks are mostly running the same sets they had been running under D’Antoni with some different emphasis and a few added wrinkles. But over the three game winning streak since Woodson took over the main difference is that the team is running those sets more efficiently and with much greater commitment. Woodson has taken Lin off the ball a little bit and, to my eye, made a conscious effort to get Melo more touches earlier in the shot clock. Melo has responded by not forcing shots and making quick, smart decisions with greater frequency than he did under D’Antoni. And both Melo and Amar’e are playing excellent defense.

At bottom, though, the difference is that they’re trying really hard now.

Sam: Who’s going to be coaching the Knicks next season?
Jon: It’s not easy to say at this point. There’s buzz here in New York that Phil Jackson is going to be the next anointed savior to take 40 or so million dollars of owner Jim Dolan’s money and try to turn this Knicks squad from lemons to lemonade. Color me skeptical, though.

More likely, the Knicks throw a bunch of cash at a big-name coach with lesser bona fides than Phil like John Calipari or Nate McMillan. I suppose the Van Gundy brothers could be in this mix as well if Dwight axes Stan or if Jeff and Dolan decide to kiss and make up.

And, of course, we shouldn’t discount the possibility that Woodson gets the gig permanently, at least not until he loses a game.

Sam: How are Lin, Amar, Carmelo and Chandler going to coexist in the long-run?
Jon: I think it should work out fine provided that Lin, Amar’e and Melo are willing to sacrifice a bit. Chandler can play with anyone and proves game after game that he cares only about winning. Lin, Amar’e and Melo are all guys who play best with the ball in their hands. That’s a little bit of a challenge but Woodson has responded to it (smartly) by calling more plays. The key is making sure that all three are playing unselfishly and remain engaged at both ends on every possession. If they do that, as they have over these past three games, there’s no reason they can’t play well together.

Sam: Will we see a move involving one or more of Carmelo, Amare and Chandler that nets them an all-star talent?
Jon: If the Knicks lose the momentum they have now and miss the playoffs, anything is possible. Short of that, I think the core of this team will probably be together through at least next season. Chandler is the heart of the team and has been their best player this season and the owner made the trade for Carmelo over the advice/warnings of his front office, so I don’t think either of those two will be dealt anytime soon. Amar’e looks like he may be declining athletically and I do think the Knicks would at least consider trading him if a good opportunity arose but, given that he’s owed around $60 million over the next 3 seasons on an uninsurable contract, I don’t expect it.

Most likely, the team you see tonight is going to be the core of the Knicks for a while. They’re more likely churn through some coaches before they would take a grenade to the roster.

Sam: This is going to be a different game than the Carmelo-less squad that got a game winning three from Lin the last time out; what can we expect to see tonight, and what will the Raptors need to do to be competitive?
Jon: A lot is different.

In the last Linsanity-fueled matchup last month the Knicks actually stole victory from the jaws of defeat with a timely steal and dunk by Shumpert and, of course, the Lin game winner. (Still saved on my tivo. Lin!) You never know what you’re going to get from this Knicks squad night to night but if the last three games are any indication, the Raptors should expect to see the same defense they saw in the 4th quarter last time coupled with a more dangerous and varied offense. (The Knick offense no longer consists of running 65 high pick-and-rolls for Lin every game.)

The other big difference is that the team goes 10 deep now. The last time the Knicks and Raptors played, Jared Jeffries and Bill Walker were starters. Since then, those two been replaced in the lineup by Melo and Amar’e, Baron Davis returned from his back injury (though, he’s out again tonight), and the teamsigned JR Smith. The bench has been a huge, perhaps underrated part of the team’s recent success. Woodson starts putting in his reserves around the 4-5 minute mark of the first quarter and those guys have been routinely taking small leads and turning them into much bigger ones.

For the Raptors to win tonight, they’re probably going to need Bayless to attack Lin as Calderon did in the first matchup and the team is going to need to shoot well from behind the 3 point line. They’ll also have to keep the turnovers to a minimum because the Knicks have been doing an awesome job under Woodson of running off defense.

The Line

The Knicks are 9-point favourites with an over/under of 198. With Jose potentially limping back into the lineup, and less firepower off the bench, it’s going to be a long night. I haven’t seen the Knicks play during this three game winning streak, so I don’t have a sense of how this bad-boy will play out, but with Carmelo coming out and actually saying he wasn’t trying before, I’m expecting a scrappy showing from the Raptors to keep this one from getting out of hand.

  • Nilanka15

    Curious to see how Bayless responds to the demotion…

    • RaptorFan

      I think the raptors management are dumb for demoting Bayless……we need to see what we have with this kid over the next 20 games….. give him the starting job and let Jose come off the bench.  Its the right thing to do imo. 

      • CJT

        I think it depends on how you want you team to be utilized.  Bayless has proven that he can score no doubt, but many don’t believe that he has been very good at putting his teammates in a position to succeed.  There were a few instances of him handing the ball to AB in a trap kind of position resulting in turnovers.  I do think he can get better at this though and agree that he needs more minutes to learn how to get the best out of his team.

      • Ad

        agreed

      • Raps4Ever

        Bayless can certainly score, but until he shows that the energy he
        undoubtedly brings can be channeled toward team play, Casey is going to
        start a PG, when available, that runs an offense involving other players
        that he’s trying to evaluate/develop. This is a “tryout” season for more than one player.

      • Mantcore13

        The bright side of this demotion, Raptors will need less money for him if they want to extend contract after season, because no one offers big money for bench players.

    • Raps4Ever

      He isn’t being “demoted”. Will CJ Watson be demoted when Rose comes back? Despite his scoring, Bayless hasn’t won a starting PG spot over Jose.

      • RaptorFan

        I love Jose, but please dont compare this situation to Rose (MVP).

        Thanks!

        • Raps4Ever

          I didn’t compare Jose to Rose. I responded to the inappropriate use of the term “demoted”. The English language has many words, some of which actually describe what happens to Bayless when Jose starts. “Demotion” is not one of them.
          Your welcome!

          • RaptorFan

            my bad….i also agree demotion isnt the best word to use

      • Nilanka15

        To-may-to, to-mah-to. 

        The bottom line is that Bayless wants to be a starter, and plays better when he’s a starter…and how he handles the change (in his head) will basically affect his next contract.

        • Raps4Ever

          Ooooookay. I was simply responding to the use of the term “demoted”, and didn’t realize you where getting to this “bottom line” with “Curious to see how Bayless responds to the demotion… ”

          • Nilanka15

            So typical of p00ka to focus on semantics, and completely miss the point of the post.  Way to contribute!

            Besides, just because you say it wasn’t a demotion, doesn’t make it true.  Get over yourself.

            • Raps4Ever

              Kid, I respond to what you say. I think that’s what this reply button on here is for. Sorry it’s not in me to respond to what’s floating around in your head, that you don’t say, yet say it’s the “bottom line” afterward. I don’t do womenspeak well.

              If it makes you feel bigger, you carry on with your little snits when questioned: “way to contribute”, “get over yourself”. LOL, you get your panties in a knot pretty easily, don’t you.

              • Nilanka15

                Actually, the reply button is to discuss basketball.  Not to profess one’s powers as a proof-reader.

                But when in doubt, resort to child-like panty references, right p00ka?

                As I said before, way to contribute!

                • Raps4Ever

                  LOL, it’s funny how you get so lost and desperate during your hissy fits. Your “time of the month”, aye.

      • Destro

        Bad comparison…Rose is an elite MVP calibre game changing PG and Watson is clearly a back up in this league….Bayless and Calderon are essentially 1A and 1B..either or could start over the other…I do subscribe to the theory the PRO Jose crowd refutes Bayless abilities mostly because he hasnt been given an opportunity to start with signifigant mins,cuz he has shown when he does he will outperform Jose and can do things Jose cant (Memphis game)…

  • RaptorFan

    I must admit that i really like Jose and want Jose to be a Raptor until he retires….he’s a great mentor for our future point guard and he seems to love this team as much as i do…….I think he will be a good back up for years to come…..i just dont think he has the fire power we’re looking for in a point guard…..Bayless clearly does (watch the games he started last season and this season)…..I think Bayless has learned from Jose and can learn more……I think its time raptor fans get behind this kid…..he has shown that he just works his butt off for this team!

    • Destro

      Ive always said Calderon cant mentor a good PG coming up…because he hasnt earned any stripes for a young PG to respect him to do that….mentors have to be All Stars or guys who’ve accomplishes things in the NBA…NO PG coming into the league is going to want to listen to a guy who’s been struggling to keep a starting job….
      Is Steve Blake going to mentor somebody now ? Same reason Jose cant be a leader in a huddle,nobody with game or potential is going to listen to an inferior players advice,why you always see guys looking away and not paying attention when Jose is trying to command a timeout….

  • Daniel Rouleau

    “Just for the record, Bayless wouldn’t have given the kid so much room.”
    Jose gives the guy a 32% chance to score when all the Knicks needed was 1 point to win. So there was a 68% chance of the game going to overtime.

    What if Bayless played closer? Would Lin be able to drive and drawn a foul, or drove and kick to a teammate with a higher than 32% chance of making the field goal?We don’t know the answer for sure but 32% chance of scoring on a specific possession when all you need is 1 point is not a very attractive proposition for the offense.

    Jose played the odds and we lost.

    Playing the odds was the right decision.

    • Sam Holako

      Solid point, but I would have liked to see Lin pressured a little more and have his decision making put to the test instead of giving him space/time to make something happen.

    • brother

      Agreed. Jose played it right. In basketball, you give the guy the low percentage shot and protect against the likelier, higher percentage blow by in that scenario. Lin hits a super quick jumpshot 3 ball from 25 feet out? C’est la vie. Nobody can stop that shot.

      Jacking up a 3 in a tie game with a weak defender on you WAS stupid. Was that D’Antoni’s play? “Lin go jack up a deep three ball”. I doubt it. If it was, he deserved to be fired.

    • Destro

      Jose did that cuz he knows he cant keep ANYBODY in front of him,so he “played it right” actually boils down to he let him take an open 3 over getting embarrased….

  • Cdhall

    +1
    Agree—–leave Bayless in and see if he deserves to get a Qualifying offer from the Raps for next year.

  • RaptorFan

    check out his profile on draft express…..

    Best
    Case: Monta Ellis (w/better PG Skills)
    Worst Case: Louis
    Williams

    From DraftExpress.com http://www.draftexpress.com#ixzz1pg9afEvu

    http://www.draftexpress.com We need to give him at least 30-35 mins per game to end this season…..see if he lives up to his potential….. what do we have to lose??   Higher draft pick maybe??  **I hear you Tank City peeps getting excited**

    • Lorenzo

       Worst case Louis Williams??? I would snatch LW over Bayless in a HEARTBEAT, the dude is ballin… on a GOOD TEAM.

      • RaptorFan

        i wouldnt do that at all…..check their stats dude….Louis Williams scores about 3 more ppg….but their stats are pretty much identical….except Bayless is a better shooter….Bayless is also 2 years younger than Williams….with consistent PT (playing time) i think Bayless will be a better player.  Also, Philly wasn’t such a good team a couple years ago (when he was the same age as Bayless)

        • Raps4Ever

          You seem one of those that put too much emphasis on stats, while paying scant attention to other factors influencing a player’s value to a team. One big difference in the two is that Williams accepts his role as a spark off the bench, and does a pretty damn good job of it. On the other hand, Bayless, apparently doesn’t do his best coming off the bench.

          Unless a coach is convinced Bayless is good enough to have in the PG spot as a starter, while he continues to forget that the team around him aren’t just for creating space for him, his lower efficiency as a bench spark is a problem. 

        • sleepz

          Have to agree with Lorenzo. You put both on that same Philly team and Bayless probably doesn’t see the floor or is competing for minutes with Jodie Meeks.

          You put Williams on this Rap teams and Jose is playing poorly again because his job is in jeopardy as you know he gets to frettin’ when that happens.

          • Destro

            I think Bayless would get more of an opportunity on other teams that have better talent than Raps do….

            • Raptor Fan

              +1

    • guest

      Either one Ellis or Williams is better than a lot of the players the Raptors have now!

  • Jeffrey Thompson

    I was a big advocate for trading Jose by the deadline because I believe that Jose has done all that he can and from what I’ve seen of Bayless, I think he deserves to be given a shot to start at the point.  He can score and he has shown himself to be a rather decent distributor.  I say give the kid a chance and find Jose a contender for him to be shipped to.  It’s the least that the Raptors can do.

  • sleepz

    The day they give Jerryd Bayless the starting pg job on this team, there will be a mutiny. No one wants a 2 playing the 1 because you don’t end up seeing the ball, especially when the 2 is shooting the ball well.

    • Lorenzo

      The day Bayless starts over Jose is the day Andrea starts pulling a Vince.

      • Evolution

        Maybe Andrea should come off the bench with Jose.  Honestly some of you guys on here are acting like our team is actually pretty good the way it is right now.  Jose/Andrea had at least 5-6 years each on this team. Injuries and inconsistency is all i see (with some growth from Andrea).  I think its time for real and honest evaluation this summer.  No one should be safe!

      • Destro

        Were not winning with Jose or Andrea at there “best”

  • 511

    Hoping for a half-decent game tonight in this season of hell-hoops (Raptors fan perspective, you understand). Whether there’s ambivalence about trying to make the playoffs or not (and oh my gawd there’s so much I’d enjoy ranting about right here but nothing seems quite appropriate … it’s a touchy goddam subject, isn’t it?), the schedule over the next couple of weeks should provide, naturally enough, whatever losses-racked-up the fans of increasing numbers of lottery ping-pong balls will hope for. Me, I’m trying to go with the program best I can but … it’s making me nuts. I want more lottery balls (more accurately, more four-digit lottery permutations) but I hate seeing the Raptors lose. So … tonight, I’m hoping that the chains come off of Bargnani and Jose and everybody pulls together and we beat the living shit out of the Knicks. Because really, I think we’re a better team and I’d love to cram it up their asses. So go Raps. Even if it’s just for tonight. 

    • 511

      well, that didn’t work out so good. Anyway, who knew they’d be that much better with Woodson coaching? Not me.