Two teams on very different ends of the NBA totem pole will meet Friday in what should prove to be an intriguing matchup. New York is looking to prove that its minor deadline moves have solidified them as an Eastern Conference powerhouse, whereas Toronto is hopeful that it's moves have firmly announced the team as a threat to the rest of the conference.
Yesterday, the Knicks added Kenyon Martin on a 10-day contract to fill in for the injured Rasheed Wallace. Shooting guard Ronnie Brewer was also dealt to Oklahoma City in a separate deal.\
Toronto made the big splash a couple of weeks ago when they brought in Rudy Gay, but yesterday made the smaller move of acquiring Sebastian Telfair from Phoenix. Toronto had been coveting a backup point guard after losing Jose Calderon in the Gay deal, and Telfair is more than capable.
After these moves, the identities of these teams are slightly uncertain. New York is coming off a brutal 34-point loss at Indiana, whereas Toronto has slowly begun to push its way up the standings. There are a few things to look for on Friday night in Canada.
Will the Knicks be able to contain Gay and DeRozan?
Adding another solid point guard to the mix makes Toronto's wing players a bit more dangerous. Subtracting Ronnie Brewer makes the Knicks' perimeter defense just a bit more porous.
Toronto's strength lies in their athletic wing men. Carmelo Anthony, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith will have their hands full, and they will need to make a big statement coming off such a big loss.
While Kenyon Martin may not be a big factor just yet, this team is in need of a statement game to ensure that they don't start the second half on a terrible note.
Was Telfair the Missing Piece?
A quick look up and down the Raptors' roster will tell you that there are not many weaknesses on this team.
With Rudy Gay on board they might only need a little time to mesh as a cohesive unit in order to become a threat, something that Telfair should be able to help with. Much like starting point guard Kyle Lowry, Telfair is very quick and should pose a problem to the older point guards on the Knicks' roster.
How the Knicks contain all the speed and athleticism on the wings from Toronto will be interesting. If Telfair pulls his own weight, he may have filled the biggest hole on this roster.
Can Toronto Hang With the Big Boys?
Since acquiring Gay, the Raptors have proved they have the talent to compete with any team in this league.
The Knicks are among the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference. Just a short while back on Feb. 13, Toronto went into Madison Square Garden and handed the Knicks a 92-88 loss. New York definitely has this fresh on its minds, so the question is, can Toronto prove that was not a fluke and step up again?
The Raptors need to prove that they can beat teams without surprising them. With the Rudy Gay acquisition comes added pressure. Teams will be gunning for them more and they need to step up to the plate since they will not be catching teams off-guard with unexpected strong performances. They are held to a higher standard now and must prove that they belong.