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New York Knicks vs. Toronto Raptors March 23 Game Preview: A Fan’s Outlook
The New York Knicks get to play another game against the Toronto Raptors on Friday night (March 23), giving the team a shot at running the current win streak to six games. While the Raptors are certainly a team in disarray, this isn't a game that the Knicks should take lightly. After all, the Raptors have beaten the Knicks once already this season, showing that the team is good enough to possibly do it again.
The Atlantic division standings have become even tighter, especially after the Knicks went into Philadelphia and took down the 76ers on Wednesday (March 21). Now the Knicks trail Philadelphia by just three games and I think that New York could still claim the division. I think that the best chance for the Knicks to go deep into the 2012 Eastern Conference Playoffs is to win the Atlantic and take that No. 4 seed. It would give the team home court advantage in the first round and likely avoid the Miami Heat until the Eastern Conference Finals.
But what New York has to do is beat the weaker teams like Toronto and not slip up when the playoffs are on the line. Keeping with the current game plan, the Knicks need strong performances from the starters and the bench. The team did just beat the Raptors by 19 points on March 20, but has got to keep the pressure on defense going. I think that the best way to put down the Raptors again is to keep the ball moving, play strong help-defense and to get great contributions from Steve Novak and J.R. Smith once again.
In the next three games, the Knicks play the Raptors, Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks. Those are three very winnable games that could move the team close to the Boston Celtics and 76ers in the Atlantic division. Unfortunately, the Knicks don't get to play Philadelphia again this season, so the team just needs to win games and hope for a little help from the 76ers' opponents.
I am a little worried about Jared Jeffries staying healthy, because he is extremely important to this team. Hopefully he is ready to go again and that he can provide that spectacular defense that has helped the team get back on the winning track. With Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire leading the way again, I expect the Knicks to make easy work of the Raptors and push the record back to .500 overall on Friday night (March 23).
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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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