You would have to think that coming off of yesterday’s impressive win at the Garden, the Raptors would be able to keep that momentum going into today’s game at home against the Knicks. Seeing that the Raptors eliminated the Knicks from playoff contention and Toronto still has a miniscule chance of making it, there is still something to play for (other than pride).
Now with the Raptors clearly firing on all cylinders, you would have to think there are a lot of teams that are happy the Raptors had an absolutely dismal start to the year, because the way they are playing right now, you wouldn’t want to have to face them in the first round of a playoff series with them as the 8 seed. We’ve heard the cliche so many times about getting hot at the right time and if the Raptors had a few more wins and were actually in contention for that last playoff spot, they would have been getting hot at precisely the right time.
But, that being said, the Raptors aren’t really in the playoff hunt. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pulling for them to pull off one of the all-time great rallies, but they are going to need some help and when you start needing a lot of help to get into the playoffs, then you’re essentially a team that doesn’t really deserve to get into the playoffs. The Raptors made so many mistakes early in the season that now is the time they are really starting to pay for them.
The good thing for the Raptors is that looking forward to next year, they can at least start to realistically say that they have the building blocks in place to make a serious run at the playoffs next season. Sure, they still need a few pieces here and there, but there is promise.
As for the Knicks, they made significant strides this season, but one would have to think that D’Antoni figured they were going to at least secure the 8 seed this season. It could be that yesterday’s game against the Raptors showed them that while they have made progress, they are still a long way from becoming a playoff team. I honestly believe the Raptors are a lot closer to that plateau than the Knicks are and it will be interesting to see these two teams play next year.
As for this afternoon’s matchup, you probably won’t see a lot of changes from what you saw yesterday, although getting knocked out of the playoff hunt (officially) and then having to hit the road after the game to go and play in the town of the team who just knocked you out has to be a bit of a downer. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the Knicks mail one in today, although D’Antoni doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would let that happen.
3 in the Key
1. The legs might be a little weary today, so if a lot of jumpers are falling short, Pops and the boys will have to get on the boards.
2. Tighten up on Duhon. He had a little bit too much room yesterday.
3. Keep looking for Marion heading down the floor. He has shown that he can even beat the quick teams down the floor, so if the opportunity is there, take the easy points.