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New York Knicks vs. Toronto Raptors March 20 Game Preview: A Fan’s Outlook
The New York Knicks have built up a nice three-game winning streak and will look to extend it on Tuesday night (March 20). This time it's the Toronto Raptors that come to town; a team that has struggled to a 15-30 record this season, but which has also beaten New York already this year. The last time that the two teams met up though, it was Jeremy Lin that stole the show with a three-pointer as time ran out in the fourth quarter. I jumped out of my seat when I saw that shot go in and have to imagine that it was the same for Knicks fans across the country.
Now the Knicks are playing with a new coach in Mike Woodson and the entire roster has suddenly come to life. The last three wins have all been blow-outs, including a 42-point win over the Portland Trail Blazers on March 14. The offense has averaged 113 points in that span, with the defense allowing only just 89 points.
After what seemed like a grind after the All-Star break, the Knicks are an exciting team to watch again. The starters get it going and when the second unit comes in, it is like a fire gets ignited under the team. This is as interesting as the Knicks have been in recent memory, with the team continuously providing glimpses of success that could come down the road. I am sure that every other Knicks fans out there is equally entranced by what this team can do even if some may have become hesitant to get to confident.
It has been a good week of games for the Knicks, but the team still hasn't found a way to create separation with the Milwaukee Bucks for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Enter Toronto, a team that has struggled to find consistency, especially with an injury to starting point guard Jose Calderon. Jerryd Bayless has stepped into those minutes, proving that he could probably start at point guard for a number of other teams.
The Raptors also acquired Leandro Barbosa at the trade deadline, giving them another weapon to go with DeMar DeRozan and the now healthy Andrea Bargnani. It's a team that is still dangerous on offense, especially with all of the depth that the roster has when Calderon is healthy. It is still unknown whether or not he will play against the Knicks Tuesday (March 20).
Out in the Western Conference, Portland hosts Milwaukee after the Knicks game, probably giving the Bucks another win. It raises the stakes for the Knicks and turns this game against the Raptors into a must-win. As the standings now sit, New York has a slight half game lead over the Bucks, but would lose the head-to-head tie-breakers. New York is also just two and a half games behind the Boston Celtics for the No. 7 spot in the East and second place in the Atlantic division. Maybe more interesting is the fact that the team is now within four games of the first place Philadelphia 76ers.
New York plays Milwaukee on March 26 and April 11, addressing that situation, but the team also needs to put the game against Toronto in the win column. Baron Davis is a bit hobbled by a hamstring issue and Bill Walker is out, but everyone else has to step up and play hard. The team has started out very well under interim coach Mike Woodson and continuing that trend would certainly keep things interesting for the whole Eastern Conference.
I look forward to watching the game on Tuesday night (March 20), because I feel it is going to become another blow out in favor of the Knicks.
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*Ryan Christopher DeVault is a fan of the New York Knicks that has followed the team since the days John Starks, Charles Oakley, and Anthony Mason instilled their defensive will on the rest of the league.
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