Gameday: Knicks @ Raptors, Nov. 27

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TORONTO, CANADA - FEBRUARY 8: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors handles the ball against the New York Knicks on February 8, 2018 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Knicks come to town, showing off their North American tour of the “Six Power Forwards, and an athletic Canadian” production. They don’t draw much of a crowd in other cities, but they’re quite a hit in New York. This is evidenced by fans comments from different cities.

“I can’t imagine having a production that poor. Their organization is corrupt at the top – it’s like, the opposite of what we got here. And you people really cheer for them? Are you dumb?” – Toronto Fan

“Kyle Kuzma is better than anyone in that production. They did have ‘Melo’ for awhile, though. Man, I wish we signed him, then we would’ve had four top-15 players this year. LeBron, ‘AD’, ‘Melo’ and Kuzma.” – Los Angeles Fan

“We traded away our whole future and we’re somehow still in a much better position.” Brooklyn Fan

“I liked when they signed Ron Baker.” – Utah Fan

“I wish we signed Ron Baker.” – Mark Cuban (allegedly)

“I can’t believe we signed Ron Baker. But hey, it’s the Knicks. It’s the Mecca, the Garden. ” – New York Fan in response to reading the other responses

I walked through the most important things stylistically for this game in last Friday’s Black Box Report, but I’ll rehash some of that here.

The Knicks will plan to slog through a game with no spacing the same way the 76ers did against the Raptors. They’re going to hammer the offensive glass. Only, the Knicks don’t have one of the best defenses in the league to fall back on, on the other end. In their wins, the Knicks rebound the ball really, really well. They trap teams in their own half, and suddenly the power forward laden team can seem a lot more dangerous. The Raptors are a significantly better team than these Knicks, but this strength of the Knicks is a weakness for the Raptors. Expect at least some troubleshooting as far as defensive rebounding goes in this one.

However, the Raptors kill teams that don’t pass the ball very much, and the Knicks aren’t a good passing team. The Raptors should be able to load up on the matchup they deem most worthy – I would guess Julius Randle – and try to make sure the release from that pressure doesn’t go to the Knicks best shooter, Marcus Morris. Nick Nurse & Co. have incentivized better teams into worse shots on offense, so as long as the effort is there the Raptors should be able to lock down their own end.

For their part, though, the Raptors should be able to impose their will onto the Knicks. Fred VanVleet has done an excellent job of injecting pace into the Raptors offense, even when it doesn’t necessarily belong in the game. This relentless pushing of the ball should have a huge payout for the Raptors as they run wild on the Knicks strangely constructed defense.

Depending on how many minutes Mitchell Robinson gets in this one (20 MPG over his last 6) there should be lots of opportunities for Norman Powell to shoot the gaps in the defense and inject some pop into his driving game. VanVleet’s excellent work of Nash-ing the pick n’ roll has lots of potential to boom in this one as well, as the back end of the New York defense tends to get really sloppy after switches.

We saw the Raptors flash Pascal Siakam as an option in the screen & roll against the 76ers, and if things get hairy down the stretch for the Raptors in this one there’s a lot of fun combinations to try out against a Knicks team that should be pretty susceptible to that. Siakam as a screener for VanVleet, Anunoby or VanVleet screening for Siakam – even the 4-5 pick n’ roll with Gasol to make the Knicks big fellas take that extra step out.

I hope RJ Barrett’s illness gets better in time for tipoff. I think the crowd would love to see him play, and obviously it’d be a special occasion for him.

Game Info

Tipoff: 7:30pm EST | TV: TSN | Radio: TheFan590

Raptors Updates

Serge Ibaka (ankle) didn’t practice Tuesday and is doubtful to play, Kyle Lowry (thumb) is out, Matt Thomas (broken finger) is doubtful, Patrick McCaw (knee) is out.

PG: Fred VanVleet, Terence Davis II

SG: Norman Powell

SF: OG Anunoby, Malcolm Miller, Stanley Johnson

PF: Pascal Siakam, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris Boucher

C: Marc Gasol, Dewan Hernandez

Knicks Updates

Frank Ntilikina (left quad) is questionable, Elfrid Payton (hamstring) will be re-evaluated at the start of December, RJ Barrett (illness) is questionable, and Reggie Bullock (neck) will be re-evaluated in early December.

PG: Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr.

SG: RJ Barrett, Wayne Ellington, Damyean Dotson, Allonzo Trier

SF: Marcus Morris, Kevin Knox, Ignas Brazdeikis

PF: Julius Randle, Bobby Portis

C: Taj Gibson, Mitchell Robinson

Yes, Mitchell Robinson will win the Mitchell Robinson Award no matter what happens. I don’t care if he scores the winning basket for the Raptors.

Have a blessed day.


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