Morning Coffee

Morning Coffee – Sun, Nov 11: Raptors beat Knicks, East strengthens

Knicks Takeaways from 128-112 loss to Raptors in Toronto | SNY

You can see why the Raptors are now 12-1 on the season. They clearly are in a different class from the Knicks. They have so many guys that can beat you, and they play strong, physical basketball that the Knicks just couldn’t keep up with. It wasn’t the Raptors two stars, Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry, that were destroying the Knicks, it was everyone else. They had seven guys score in double figures.

The Knicks’ defense was atrocious in the second and third quarter, when they gave up 75 points. They played undisciplined basketball, struggling to keep up with Toronto, and getting into foul trouble. The two positives for the Knicks? Tim Hardaway Jr. had another strong game and he shot the ball well, making 11 of 17 shots. Kevin Knox also played well and got to play some more minutes, scoring 12 points and making two threes. Knox looks like he is getting more comfortable now after spraining his ankle. 

The Knicks just have not been able to beat a good team yet this season. These elite teams are dominating the game late, putting the young Knicks away. This team will have to do a better job playing all four quarters, and not just the first 36 minutes. At 4-9, the Knicks will have a chance to rebound quickly from this loss as they return home against the 5-7 Magic tomorrow. 

How does the Jimmy Butler trade affect Knicks' offseason plan? | SNY

Check All-Star SG Jimmy Butler off the Knicks’ free-agent targets list. Or at least that’s what it sounds like after the Sixers struck a deal with the Timberwolves for Butler on Saturday. 

The Sixers landed Butler and C Justin Patton in return for SG Robert Covington, F Dario Saric, and a 2022 second-round draft pick. And they do so with the full intention of signing Butler to a long-term deal before he reaches free agency, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. 

The Knicks are expected to be very active this offseason, having enough cap room to sign a prolific superstar to a max deal if they can convince one to do so. Butler was a target for New York, but he is now off the table — in the Eastern Conference nonetheless. 

So where does that leave the Knicks? They still have a few options to work with at the moment, granted no other moves are made by opposing teams…

Warriors PF Kevin Durant
Durant is arguably the best talent entering this free agent class, and there is reason to believe he wants to leave Golden State to pursue his career elsewhere. Not many would say that, but Durant’s quest of winning an NBA title was fulfilled two seasons in a row — being named Finals MVP for both titles in the process. 

New York has already jumped on recruiting Durant, having a giant billboard saying “Can you make NY sports great again?” hang in its streets. Durant, though, isn’t a big fan of the glorified razzle dazzle that many cities try to dish out. 

Siakam, bench propel 12-1 Raptors to easy win over Knicks | National Post

“It’s something we have to clean up and we will.” The bench was massive for the Raptors putting up 62 of the team’s points. Anunoby looked comfortable, Jonas Valanciunas added 19 points and 10 rebounds in 21 minutes, Delon Wright 12.

“I think we have one of the deepest teams in the NBA,” Wright said.

“I think it was just a good day for us and sometimes you have to pick up the starters who are always picking up for us and play a team game.”

“They are a tough cover,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said of the Raptors.

“When they go to the bench, it just keeps coming at you — a lot of speed, a lot of skill, a lot of shooting.”

Minus Kristaps Porzingis, New York plays hard and tries its best, but simply cannot compete with powerhouses like Toronto. The team only made six three-pointers on 27% accuracy. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 18 points in the first half to help his team hang around and finished with 27. Enes Kanter added 15 points and 15 rebounds off of the bench.

Raptors Blog: The numbers say Lowry’s been a Top 10 NBA player so far | National Post

Now that’s how you play a tough back-to-back minus your top player. Of course having Kyle Lowry as your second-best player, Serge Ibaka playing out of his mind and Pascal Siakam taking leaps forward in front of our eyes helps quite a bit too.

1. Even with Donovan Mitchell out, Toronto had no business drilling the Jazz in Utah to close a back-to-back and a third game out West in four nights. None. Will be fascinating to see what the team has in the tank – with or without Kawhi Leonard – in Sacramento against one of the NBA’s early surprises, a Kings team that loves to run and gun, ranking second in the league in pace.

2. What can you say about Lowry at this point? While his passes seemed a bit off for once against Utah (fatigue, altitude, timing issues with Jonas Valanciunas all might have come into play), the man leads the NBA in assists (11.5, a whopping 2.2 ahead of Chris Paul), charges drawn (eight), is tied for third in loose balls recovered, is third in double-doubles (no other little guard is close) and is also shooting 50/41/81 with 1.5 steals and more rebounds per game than most guards.

3. By most metrics Lowry has played at a top-10 level early on. Rest assured that, barring injury, Lowry will make his fifth all-star appearance this season. As many as excellent players like Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Pistol Pete Maravich, Bob McAdoo, Gail Goodrich, Wes Unseld and, Lowry’s mentors, Chauncey Billups and Wayne Embry. Not bad at all. DeMar DeRozan has longer odds being in the West, but he should make his fifth appearance as well (how tough is the West? Kawhi has only made the team twice).

Siakam, bench propel 12-1 Raptors to easy win over Knicks | Toronto Sun

Asked about the early turnover issues that have crept up in three straight games now, Lowry didn’t seem overly bothered.

“Just sloppy playing, a lack of concentration early,” Lowry told Postmedia after the game.

“It’s something we have to clean up and we will.” The bench was massive for the Raptors putting up 62 of the team’s points. Anunoby looked comfortable, Jonas Valanciunas added 19 points and 10 rebounds in 21 minutes, Delon Wright 12.

“I think we have one of the deepest teams in the NBA,” Wright said.

“I think it was just a good day for us and sometimes you have to pick up the starters who are always picking up for us and play a team game.”

“They are a tough cover,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said of the Raptors.

“When they go to the bench, it just keeps coming at you — a lot of speed, a lot of skill, a lot of shooting.”

Minus Kristaps Porzingis, New York plays hard and tries its best, but simply cannot compete with powerhouses like Toronto. The team only made six three-pointers on 27% accuracy. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 18 points in the first half to help his team hang around and finished with 27. Enes Kanter added 15 points and 15 rebounds off of the bench.

Four takeaways from the Toronto Raptors' win against the New York Knicks | NBA.com

Defensive rebounding has been one of the Raptors’ few weaknesses so far this season.

Not only do they have one of the worst defensive rebounding rates in the league, they’re giving up an average of 13.7 second chance points per game to their opponents.

Those problems become clear when they play against someone like Enes Kanter, who pulled down a total of nine offensive rebounds on Saturday.

The Knicks are one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the league, so the Raptors aren’t the first team to have a tough time keeping them off the glass, but they are going to continue to get tested on that end of the court with upcoming games against the New Orleans Pelicans and Detroit Pistons.

After those matchups, we should have a better idea of if it’s something to worry about moving forward.

Raptors continue to dominate opponents while East gets tougher – Sportsnet.ca

If Toronto hasn’t been met with much competition on the floor during its run it got a jolt while loosening up for the Knicks: Jimmy Butler, a high-scoring two-way wing who can guard other elite wings and close games down the stretch – had been traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He joins the Philadelphia 76ers and a core that includes two superstar-type matchups in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and there is no question things instantly got more interesting in a conference where Giannis Antetokounmpo seems determined to carry the Milwaukee Bucks to new heights and the Boston Celtics have the deepest lineup this side of Oakland.

That Butler got dealt wasn’t a surprise – it’s hard to remember a player who made a bigger point of forcing his way out of town. That he headed east wasn’t a shock either – it would have taken a spectacular offer for T-Wolves president and head coach Tom Thibodeau to deal him within the Western Conference. The timing? Minnesota is on a five-game losing streak and already behind the playoff eight-ball. They could allow Butler to hold them hostage no longer.

“I expected that to happen. Obviously, Minnesota had a tough road trip,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. “I watched their entire game last night [Saturday]. I guess I wasn’t totally surprised this morning that [the trade] went down. It certainly brings a really good player into our gym a few more times, so we look forward to that.”

Raptors Beat Knicks to Improve to League-Best 12-1 – The New York Times

“Everyone is confident, everyone is working hard and just playing the game,” Siakam said. “It doesn’t matter what night it is, we just want to go out there and play.”

Toronto’s Nick Nurse became the first coach to win 12 of his first 13 games since Lawrence Frank started 13-0 with the Nets in 2004.

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 27 points and Enes Kanter had 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Knicks, who have lost 16 of their past 19 against the Raptors.

Siakam shot 6 for 7, including a career-best three 3-pointers, and went 8 for 9 at the free-throw line. He made up for a quiet night from Leonard, who did not make his first basket until a layup with 45 seconds to go in the first half. Leonard shot 2 for 7, missing his two 3-point attempts.

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After missing all six of his field-goal attempts in Wednesday’s win at Atlanta, the Knicks rookie Kevin Knox shot 4 for 11 and finished with 12 points.

Toronto led by 64-53 at halftime, but the Knicks shaved the gap to three points with a 12-4 run to start the second half. The Knicks closed to one behind, but the Raptors outscored them, 30-13, over the final 8 minutes 51 seconds of the third to take a 100-82 lead.

Raptors beat Knicks on day the East got a whole lot stronger | The Star

But Fizdale, in the lead-up to Sunday’s Raptors-Knicks game at Scotiabank Arena, said he didn’t possess the bandwidth to process the implications of Butler’s move.

Fizdale was too preoccupied, he said, with Toronto’s NBA team. He called the Raptors a “powerhouse.” He deemed them “scary to watch on film.” And the view didn’t get better once the game began. This was no Picasso. But Toronto, season-high 14 1/2-point favourites in Las Vegas, used their starters sparingly and still covered the spread, 128-112. That’s their 12th win in 13 tries.

“They’ve got all the ingredients,” Fizdale said of the Raptors. “They’re tough. They compete hard. They share the ball. They’re fast, athletic … It’s just a matter — can they keep it together, keep connecting? But I definitely respect them.”

This is the kind of genuflecting that’s been coming from all over the U.S. in these opening few weeks of the NBA season. The Raptors are the NBA’s best team by record and possibly its deepest by talent pool. Example from Saturday: Reserve forward OG Anunoby had an impressively efficient afternoon, scoring 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field. On a lot of nights, that might have been a story. But efficiency is a team specialty. So Anunoby’s stat line was bettered by backup centre Jonas Valanciunas, who had 19 points on eight field-goal attempts. And the game’s PhD in economy went to Pascal Siakam, who had a career-high 23 points on seven shots from the field, six of which were successful, including 3-of-4 from three-point range. Siakam, by the way, is the rare non-centre in this rotation who supposedly can’t shoot. The Knicks left him open, and he suggested he can.

Raptors 128, Knicks 112: Scenes from one of the biggest mismatches in basketball – Posting and Toasting

New York drops to 4-9 on the year. They played tough but ultimately were unable to overpower Toronto. The Raptors struggled early turning over the ball and Knicks did what they could to hang in. In the first quarter the Raptors basically did not run pick and rolls as Frank Ntilikina and Mitchell Robinson proved a troublesome pair.

Eventually Enes Kanter and Emmanuel Mudiay got in the game and well…

Siakam’s emergence has opened new lanes for Raptors ahead of Knicks matinee | Toronto Sun

Asked after practice on Friday based on his experience as a report-writing assistant under Dwane Casey how long it takes a breakout player like Siakam to make it high up on the scouting report, Nurse was frank.

“He’s probably there now, I think,” Nurse said, before speaking to what Siakam’s emergence has meant to the team.

“That’s the real beauty of it, because you know they’re game-planning for (all-stars Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard), and I’m not sure people game-planned for Serge (Ibaka) much when he was playing the four but now you can see they’re planning for him rolling and playing inside the other night,” Nurse said.

“The adjustments, you make them as you see teams doing other things. Now there is Pascal. It’s tough to game-plan for a whole bunch of people, but that’s what we’re trying to get to. What I end of thinking is, they have to do it or else those guys will continue to hurt them, but it will open up more things for Kyle and Kawhi again.”

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