TORONTO RAPTORS (35-24)
at NEW YORK KNICKS (24-35)
Tip-off: Monday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: N/A, Total: N/A
The Knicks will be going for a second straight win when they host the new-look Raptors on Monday.
The Raptors have won three straight games coming into this one, and they have won each of their first two with the newly acquired PF Serge Ibaka (15.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.6 BPG) playing. The impressive part about that is that PG Kyle Lowry (22.8 PPG, 6.9 APG, 4.7 RPG, 1.4 SPG) has been out with a sore wrist for each of the past two contests. He is questionable for this game against New York, but there is more of a shot that heíll go on Monday than in the past two contests. Itís worth noting that Toronto has held its past three opponents to an average of 96.0 PPG. That is one of the reasons the Raptors brought in Ibaka and theyíll be hoping to slow down the Knicks in this game. New York is coming off of a 110-109 victory over Philadelphia on Saturday, but that game was very close to getting away from the Knicks. They were up by double digits late, but the Sixers ended up taking a lead with under 10 seconds left. SF Carmelo Anthony (23.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG) then hit a game-winner for the Knicks, and that loss prevented the team from hitting a three-game losing streak. New York has now won two of its past four games and a win on Monday would make it three in the past five, and that would be one of the teamís better stretches of the entire season. Regardless, the Raptors have dominated this head-to-head series recently. Over the past three seasons, Toronto is 8-2 SU against New York. That includes a 3-1 SU record at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks are 6-4 ATS in those three years, though. The team will most likely be without PF Kristaps Porzingis (Ankle) in this one, and they could really use his services in a game like this.
The Raptors have won three straight games and Serge Ibaka has fit in well with his new team. In his first two games with Toronto, Ibaka is averaging 16.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG and 1.0 BPG in 35.0 MPG. His ability to stretch the floor and protect the rim will be huge for the Raptors in the playoffs, and it could also help a ton on Monday. Without Porzingis, the Knicks really do not have a match for him. Look for him to spend a lot of time at the center position as well. Toronto has had some success with that small-ball lineup, which leaves C Jonas Valanciunas (12.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG) in an odd position. Valanciunas is still a dominant scorer in the paint, but he will see fewer minutes with Ibaka in the fold. As is always the case, SG DeMar DeRozan (27.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.1 SPG) will be counted on to lead this team on Monday. DeRozan has been on a tear lately, averaging 38.0 PPG over the past two contests. He would not score that much if Lowry were to suit up, but DeRozan should still dominate this one. New York has nobody that can guard him in isolation, and the Raptors will create that scenario as often as possible. Lowry, meanwhile, would also have his way if he were to end up on the court.
If the Knicks are going to win this game at home then Carmelo Anthony must be on his game on Monday. Anthony exploded against Philadelphia, scoring 37 points on 15-for-25 shooting. He also had six rebounds, two assists and a block in that one. Itíd be huge if he can come through with another performance like that one here. PG Derrick Rose (17.6 PPG, 4.4 APG, 3.9 RPG) and SG Courtney Lee (10.4 PPG) will also have to play well for New York, though. The Knicks are going up against one of the best backcourts in the league, and they must hold their own. Rose was good against Philadelphia, finishing with 18 points on 8-for-17 shooting from the floor. Lee only had five points against the Sixers, though. That type of performance is not going to cut it for New York, and heíll need to have at least 12 on Monday. He also needs to play some solid defense on DeRozan. C Willy Hernangomez (6.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG) is a guy that could provide a spark for the team. Over the past five games, Hernangomez is averaging 10.8 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.4 BPG and 1.0 SPG in only 24.0 MPG. He is one of the more impressive rookies in the league, and he could provide some needed toughness against Valanciunas inside.