New York Knicks vs. Toronto Raptors: Preview, Analysis and Predictions
In a battle between two Atlantic Division foes, the New York Knicks will travel to play the Toronto Raptors. This will be the third game between the two sides and the first of a home-and-home which starts in Toronto.
Toronto has won both of their first two games against the Knicks.
For the season, the Knicks are 40-26 overall and 17-16 on the road. They've lost six of their past 11 games and are falling further out of second place in the Eastern Conference.
A win against Toronto could go a long way towards righting the ship.
As for the Raptors, they're 26-42 overall and 17-17 at the Air Canada Centre. That includes a record of 2-0 against the Knicks.
So which rival will emerge victorious during the final stretch of the 2012-13 regular season.
Time: Friday, Mar. 22 at 7:00 p.m. EDT
TV: MSG & SportsNet One
Records: New York Knicks (40-26, 17-16 road) at Toronto Raptors (26-42, 17-17 home)
Betting Line: N/A
New York Knicks Injury Report
Tyson Chandler, Bulging Disc in Spine, Doubtful
Iman Shumpert, Strained Knee, Out
Amar'e Stoudemire, Right Knee Debridement Surgery, Out
Kurt Thomas, Stress Fracture in Right Foot, Out
Rasheed Wallace, Fractured Left Foot, Out
Toronto Raptors Injury Report
Andrea Bargnani, Right Elbow Sprain, Out
Mickael Pietrus, Knee Tendinitis, Out
Key Storyline: Bragging Rights
The New York Knicks are 5-5 during their past 10 games. They're also a full game behind the Indiana Pacers for second-place in the Eastern Conference.
The only way to improve their standing is to take down their rival Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors have downed the Knicks in each of their past two battles. That includes a 92-88 win at Madison Square Garden and a 100-98 home win.
So can they take the three-peat? If they do, the Raptors will have won the season series for the series.
Key Matchup: Carmelo Anthony vs. Rudy Gay
There may be under-the-radar matchups worth watching, but no positional battle holds as much weight as that at small forward. That, of course, features Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gay.
A battle which has already offered memorable moments in 2012-13.
Gay is 2-0 against the Knicks as a member of the Toronto Raptors. Most recently, Gay scored 32 points and dropped nine in the final 3:53.
Can 'Melo slow him down this time around?
There is no denying that the Knicks are in dire need of a victory. With that said, the Raptors have the Knicks' number in 2012-13.
Anthony will need a monster performance here.
X-Factor: Raymond Felton, New York Knicks
The Toronto Raptors are a team led by a handful of promising young players, including point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry is one of the most well-rounded players at his position, as he combines offensive prowess with unparalleled rebounding skills and defensive tenacity.
The key for the New York Knicks is to have Raymond Felton counter him in the proper manner—without going into a one-on-one mentality.
Felton has an undeniable tendency to attempt to match his assignment shot-for-shot. While Lowry isn't necessarily a shot taker, Felton cannot allow this to become a battle of individual wits once Lowry gets going.
His ability to facilitate first and score second will determine the outcome of this game.
The Toronto Raptors have won their past two games against the New York Knicks. The Knicks, meanwhile, are in dire need of a victory with the postseason looming.
Who will win?
Expect urgency to determine this one.
Carmelo Anthony will counter Rudy Gay's production as he takes the reins as the leader of a stumbling playoff team. Although the Raptors will keep it close, there is no denying how desperate the Knicks will be.
With or without their injured stars, there is no way the Knicks walk away empty-handed for a third straight time. The Knicks will win and gain on the Indiana Pacers.
New York Knicks 96, Toronto Raptors 93
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