The New York Knicks struggled at the Toronto Raptors on Friday in one of their few lackluster performances of late. After bouncing back with an easy win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, the Knicks will get another shot at their Atlantic Division rivals on their home court when they host the Raptors on Wednesday.
After several down seasons, New York owns a winning record over a month into the 2017-18 campaign and is beginning to believe that its team - built around budding star Kristaps Porzingis - can make some noise in the Eastern Conference. “One thing about this team, everybody knows what they’re going to do, everybody knows his role,” Center Enes Kanter, who delivered 12 points and 16 rebounds in Monday’s 107-85 win over the Clippers, told reporters. “We’re just going out, playing basketball and having fun.” Toronto seems to be having plenty of fun as well and enters Wednesday’s tilt riding a four-game winning streak, including that 107-84 triumph over New York. The Raptors got 22 points apiece from Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan in that win while holding the Knicks to 33 percent shooting, including 3-of-13 from Porzingis.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet (Toronto), MSG (New York)
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (11-5): Injuries are forcing Toronto to widen the rotation a bit, and younger players like Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby are finding themselves contributing as starters. Siakam is making his presence felt on the defensive end and blocked three shots in the win over New York while serving as the primary defender against Porzingis, and he added two more blocks and nine rebounds over 31 minutes in Sunday’s 100-91 win over the Washington Wizards. “(Siakam) is my guy, he’s great,” DeRozan told reporters. “The energy he brings, just his presence, his vibe as a person is unbelievable. When you go out there on the court and see the things he is able to do, it is definitely great to see.”
ABOUT THE KNICKS (9-7): New York is a different team from last season with Porzingis emerging as the star in the wake of Carmelo Anthony’s departure and players like Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Doug McDermott stepping up in their first seasons with the team. The Knicks are winners of nine of 13 since dropping their first three games of the season, and the organization recognizes the difference. “I think their resiliency (is the difference from last year’s team),” New York coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We started off 0-3 and they could have dropped their heads, but they didn’t. They kept working hard in practice. They kept going after it. If you play hard and buy into playing together as a team and not worry about stats, not worrying about what you’re going to do, just figure out what you’re going to do to help the team win things usually turn out pretty well.”
1. Knicks rookie PG Frank Ntilikina (illness) was limited to 11 minutes on Monday and is day-to-day.
2. Raptors SF Norman Powell (hip) sat out the last four games and is questionable for Wednesday.
3. Toronto took the last eight in the series, including four in New York.
PREDICTION: Knicks 106, Raptors 104