Gameday: Knicks @ Raptors Part II, Dec. 28

Let’s do it again.

The Raptors beat the Knicks 95-83 last night, a game so entertaining they’ve decided to do it again on Saturday (7 p.m., TSN2), this time at the friendly confines of the Air Canada Centre.

It’s also DeMar DeRozan bobblehead night, and if you grab one for me, I will pay you handsomely (in blogger currency, which is just RTs and Favs, but still). Seriously though, if anyone gets an extra one, please hit me up on twitter.

In case you missed last night’s game, let’s take a whip around the internet for those hot, hot takes.

William Lou, Raptors Republic tall man:

It was very weird to see the Raptors “turn it on” in the fourth tonight. They played like crap for 3, but they outscored the Knicks 29-12 in the final frame to earn the victory. I had no idea that the Raptors could shift it into gear for winning time. I thought only good teams could do that?

You put that all together, and you get a very productive player. Sure, he’s not skilled to the point of salience, but he does have quite a flair for the dramatic. You’ll recall that he averaged 24/7/7 in his first three games in a Raptors uniform. You’ll recall this clutch shot against the Cavs last year. Or you could simply think back to last week where he went toe-to-toe with Russell Westbrook and poured in 22/7/9/4 to help the Raptors take down the Thunder. He’s a very productive player whose well-rounded skillset gets overshadowed by his peers in this Golden Era of point guards.

Cathal Kelly, Toronto Star and superhero:

In the past with this team, comebacks have always felt fortunate. This one felt fated.
That’s more than new — it’s undiscovered territory. It changes everything.

Though attempted with best intentions, the abortive tank that followed the Rudy Gay trade misfired immediately. Winning stylishly in Oklahoma City made it untenable.

We’re past crude strategies of hopelessness. What we’re into now — hold yourself tight — is philosophy.

Like proper Euclideans, let’s enumerate our first principles:

One — Andrew Wiggins is already gone. It’s worse than that. A top-10 pick is probably gone. You’ve heard of ‘can’t win for losing?’ The Raptors can’t win for winning.

Two — If you’re not in the Wiggins (/Julius Randle/Marcus Smart/Jabari Parker/Joel Embiid) draft sweepstakes, losing has no purpose.

Three — All short-term decisions must now emanate from One and Two. – Game recap not found, likely due to alcohol poisoning.

Seth Rosenthal of Posting and Toasting:

The Knicks suck and I hate watching their games.

So it’s rainbows, unicorns and sunshine in Toronto and whiskey and tears in New York. Perhaps the script flips with the home court changing hands, but the Knicks will have to do it without Carmelo Anthony, Pablo Prigioni and possibly Raymond Felton, who is already two racks of ribs deep at the Pearson Airport Chili’s.

Let’s have a quick look at how this game is being evaluated.

Vegas says: Raptors -5, though it’s off the books in many places, likely because not all books have updated their lines following Anthony being ruled out. There’s presently no over/under set.
Hollinger says: Raptors -11.5
‘Averages’ say: Raptors -2.5
Rivers Cuomo says: It ain’t so

Blake says: This is another winnable game for the Raptors. The Knicks playing well in the first half was almost entirely the fault of Toronto, and if Tim Hardaway Jr. and J.R. Smith (The JR’s) are going to continue to combine for 34.5 attempts a game (as they have the past two with ‘Melo out), that makes New York relatively easy to play defense against.

Add in that the Raptors dominated the glass – they grabbed 15 of 44 rebounds on offense and 35 of 48 on defense – even against the Knicks hilarious “big” lineup, all you can identify as an area of improvement is turnovers (they had 16). You’re going to get more/longer possessions via rebounds, so win the turnover battle, too, and it puts less pressure on your offense in the event they have another cold shooting night.

No, you can’t peg Jonas Valanciunas for another 16-and-18 and maybe DeRozan won’t be as efficient (25 points on 13 shots), but the team probably also won’t shoot just 40.8 percent outside of those two, either.

I won’t bother breaking it down much further since we just saw it last night, but double back to my e-mail exchange with Jeremy Conlin of Knickerblogger from yesterday for more on these two teams.

Enjoy the weekend and any remaining holiday activities, everyone.

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