Pre-Game

Gameday: Raptors @ Knicks, Mar. 28

I did a podcast with Blake Murphy back in August, and I only asked him one question related to betting: What is the best bet out there right now for over/under win totals? His answer: “Smash the under on the Knicks.” Wise guy, that Blake. We get to watch the Raptors play the dumpster fire that currently resides in Madison Square Garden. Let’s all cross our fingers and hope for no injuries, no losses, and no missed 360 dunks.

These two teams exist at nearly polar opposites of the Eastern Conference. There’s no way to slice this that has the Knicks coming out as the better team. So, let’s just point out why the Knicks are so much more inferior, and then all collectively melt down when the Raptors don’t win by 12 or more.

Deandre Jordan is a very lazy interior defender now. The days of his DPOY consideration are long gone, and he’s far more eager when hunting rebounds than he is when making a well-timed rotation. Outside of the more than obvious eye test, his block percentage is less than half of his best year, and he hasn’t registered a single defensive win-share in his time with the Knicks. On top of that, I generally find that Norman Powell’s success around the rim is usually a good indicator of how good a rim defender is, and Powell had 4 baskets at the rim last time out against the Knicks. I’ve written about Powell’s improvements, but that’s still a sizeable number. In fact, here’s the damage that just Marc Gasol, Pascal Siakam and Powell did in the paint against the Knicks:

Not only will the Knicks have a difficult time defending the Raptors, they also score the ball worse than any team league-wide. The primary reason being that their offense has been run by horribly inefficient guards for the whole season. Their two highest usage players of this season are no longer with the team (Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr.) and the replacements have been even worse (Dennis Smith Jr. Kevin Knox). The thinking is that there’s higher upside with Knox and Smith Jr. and there is, but not this year, and not in a way that would provide any pause to the Raptors defense. Quite frankly, the Knicks take bad shots and they shoot worse.

Now that the NBA’s hottest team from downtown is playing against the Knicks – who teams shoot the three well against – I’d expect a fun night from beyond-the-arc for Raptors fans. Maybe with the Knicks being a low-competition team and Jeremy Lin’s old stomping grounds we’ll see him capture some of the pick n’ roll magic that set him on his crazy and turbulent NBA path.

It only makes sense that Nick Nurse will do his best to emulate the game against the Chicago Bulls by keeping the starters minutes under 30 apiece, and hopefully under 25 for some. In fact, since Mitchell Robinson is playing in this game, maybe just keep Kyle Lowry off the floor altogether.

Sidenote: Yes, Mitchell Robinson is going to win the Mitchell Robinson Award regardless of anything that happens in this game.

I’m hoping for a big game from OG Anunoby. His play of late makes me think he’s on the cusp of another 15-18 point game, and he’s going to swallow Damyean Dotson whole on a possession or two. It’s likely going to be Anunoby or Powell taking the meaningful bench minutes in the playoffs and his case for that starts with this game against the Knicks.

Cold-ish Take

Deandre Jordan will steal no less than 5 rebounds, and Serge Ibaka will absolutely punch Robinson in the face. Make your prop bets everyone, Ibaka is bringing out #MaFuzzy.

Game Info

TV: SportsNet One | Radio: TSN1050 | Tipoff: 7:30pm EST

Raptors Updates

Kawhi Leonard is out with a case of load management in this one, OG Anunoby isn’t listed on the injury report if you were wondering about his concussion protocol and the like.

PG: Kyle Lowry, Jeremy Lin

SG: Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, Jodie Meeks

SF: Danny Green, OG Anunoby, Patrick McCaw, Malcolm Miller

PF: Pascal Siakam

C: Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Chris Boucher

Knicks Updates

Kevin Knox (right ankle) is questionable, Dennis Smith Jr. (back) is questionable, Noah Vonleh (ankle) is out, Allonzo Trier (calf) is questionable.

PG: Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina, Kadeem Allen

SG: Damyean Dotson, John Jenkins (of Atlanta Hawks fame)

SF: Mario Hezonja (tall Charlie Chaplin)

PF: Lance Thomas, Henry Ellenson, Isaiah Hicks

C: Deandre Jordan, Mitchell Robinson, Luke Kornet

Cross your fingers for a healthy win.

Have a blessed day.

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