The Knicks’ defensive adjustments earn them a rare win in Toronto – Raptors Republic
It’s been a while since the Knicks left Toronto with a win.
You have to go back to November 2015, where a crucial play that saw Carmelo Anthony out of bounds ended unexpectedly and led to a Knicks victory. Since then, the Raptors had won eleven consecutive games at home against New York.
In December, the Knicks lost their eight-game winning streak at the hands of the Raptors. Recently New York has been on a rollercoaster ride, with this loss sparking five consecutive losses. You came back with four wins in a row.
Julius Randle’s hot start
Randle scored his second 30-point game this season against the Raptors. Of course, if Pascal Siakam drops 52 points in the first game, Randle’s goal will be ignored. This was not the case last night when he put on a scintillating display of tossing the ball in the first quarter. The first three pointer on Scottie Barnes was routine, but the difficulty increased.
Fred VanVleet was the man who finally stopped Randle’s excitement by cutting him before he could go into his shooting motion, resulting in a 24-second violation.
More Bench Woes
Despite Randle’s start, the Raptors trailed by just four after the first quarter. VanVleet and Siakam are out, leaving OG Anunoby and Barnes with Malachi Flynn, Chris Boucher and Precious Achiuwa. Within three minutes, New York increased the lead to 13. Nick Nurse called a timeout and brought back Fred and Pascal. Achiuwa only played five minutes, which seems like a short leash for a guy who played a big role on the second unit last season.
This little piece is a microcosm of that season whenever the Raptors’ top picks fell off the floor. From then on, Toronto played most of the game. In an ideal world, Nurse could keep his starting minutes in the low 30s with reserves he can trust to keep things afloat. Instead, four of the five starters went over 40 again, with Barnes playing the fewest minutes of the group at 36. The bank mob of 2018-19 does not go through that door.
The Knicks’ response to Siakam
From the Knicks’ first defensive possession, it was clear that they weren’t going to let Siakam burn them again. In his career-best 52-point night at MSG, Pascal saw plenty of one-on-one coverage. He found driving lanes and his midrange game took off. Last night, Siakam was sent help on his drives, including doubling his first touch. The lanes were congested, resulting in five accidents. Pascal got a few looks he met in New York but it just wasn’t his night.
Siakam has hit a bit of a wall after consistently carrying the Raptors’ offense all season. He shot 8-32 in the last two games, averaging 14.5 points. Meanwhile, Fred (28 points) was the best Raptor on the course during that stretch. It was a rarity this season to see both All-Stars put on strong performances on the same night. The backcourt combined for 55 points, including Gary Trent Jr., who continues his hot stretch with 27.
The “fake” comeback.
Toronto was fourth, 16 points back, with four minutes to go. Once again, it was too early to turn off the TV as a 17-3 run cut the deficit to two with 40 seconds left in what looked eerily similar to the Bucks’ Wednesday game. , but not as dramatic. Jalen Brunson finished the rally with a straight layup mixed with some expletives.
Yes, it’s fun, but equally frustrating that the Raptors can’t find similar energy earlier in games. Having a more aggressive Scottie in the first half certainly helps as his first basket came in the fourth. The bank minutes are just killer. At the end of the day, Toronto remains in 12th place in the East and is now two games out of a play-in spot.
Here’s Fred about the hole the Raptors have dug themselves up to this point.
Up next: The six-game home stand continues Sunday and hosts Portland. 0:2 so far.