Atlantic Division rivals meet as the Toronto Raptors (21-32) visit the New York Knicks (26-27) at the Madison Square Garden for a rematch of their December game, which gave Toronto their first win of the season. The NBA odds favor New York here at -170 on the money line (3½-points on the spread).
New York has been up-and-down all season, but the Raptors are unofficially “tanking” and will be without most of their key players. New York is coming off a victory against Memphis and should get this one done on Sunday.
Toronto Raptors: Occasionally Explosive
Nick Nurse does not like tanking. He does not like talking about it or even thinking about it yet the facts speak for themselves. Toronto is 4-15 since March 3, the second-worst record in the NBA. Their offense has dropped to 15th overall and their defense is 24th.
Even worse, the Raptors’ main players have been in and out of the lineup for seemingly random reasons. G Kyle Lowry (foot), G Fred VanVleet (hip), F OG Anunoby (rest), and F Pascal Siakam (rest) will all be out for tonight’s game.
On the bright side, Toronto is getting a good look with the likes of G Gary Trent Jr. and G Malachi Flynn. Trent blew up for a career-best 44 points while going 17-for-19 on the field last game while Flynn has averaged 14.4 points and 6.4 assists in his last five games.
The Raptors have lost stretches of games but sandwiched big blowout victories in between/ They torched Cleveland, Golden State, and even Denver to show they’re not totally dead. But other than these blowout wins, the Raptors have been like a lottery team.
New York Knicks: Top Heavy
If the Raptors are occasionally explosive, the Knicks are generally stifling on defense. This team is fourth in the NBA in defensive rating and has done a tremendous job limiting opponents’ three-point shooting and disrupting their offense.
New York allows the lowest three-point percent in the NBA at just 33.8%. They’re also allowing the fifth-fewest assists and the second-lowest effective field goal percent (EFG%). Where the Knicks falter is on offense, particularly from a playmaking perspective.
The Knicks shoot well from deep (38.1%) but only make 11.2 a game thanks to attempting the third-fewest in the league. They’re also among the worst at generating offense averaging the second-fewest assists.
Guards R.J. Barrett and Immanuel Quickley can be potent scorers but are generally too inconsistent and need to sharpen their decision-making and playmaking. It speaks volumes that F/C Julius Randle is their assist leader while none of their guards have a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
New York is an underrated bet here and should be favored a bit more. I understand the apprehension as it is the Knicks and they can get ugly. But this team is 31-21-1 on the spread (14-10-1 at home) and has generally beaten teams below .500 (18-10).
The Raptors can be live underdogs as we saw against Cleveland and Denver. But the Knicks have the right style to push this team down and keep them down. New York will neutralize Toronto’s three-point shooting and are gritty enough to bang with this team notorious for making their opponents sweat.
Gritty Knicks. pic.twitter.com/ycxLTYoQOK
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) April 10, 2021
The clincher for New York will be their size and their ability to crash the boards. Randle, C Nerlens Noel, and C Taj Gibson will be a handful for the undersized Raptors to keep off the glass. Barrett has been pulling down boards from the back end too.
And the cherry on top for New York will be Quickley pouring it on against Toronto. The Raptors are giving up the fourth-most threes in the NBA and the trigger-happy Quickley can feast as New York takes care of the Raptors.
Pick: New York Knicks -3½ -110