Game Preview: Raptors at Knicks
The Toronto Raptors are in New York to take on the Knicks in game 81 of the regular season. The Knicks are coming off a 101-88 road loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. Toronto comes to New York after closing out its final home game of the regular season with a narrow 96-94 victory against the Miami Heat.
Tip-off: 12 P.M. ET
Broadcast info: TSN4, TSN5/ TSN1050
This is the fourth and final meeting between these two teams. Toronto has won all three of the previous match ups, most recently earning a thrilling 92-91 comeback victory. After trailing by 17 points, the Raptors clawed their way back and DeMar DeRozan drilled a turnaround jumper with 1.9 seconds remaining to clinch the win.
DeRozan led the Raptors with a game-high 37 points on the same day that the Raptors learned they’d be without Kyle Lowry after it was announced he’d have to undergo wrist surgery.
Nearly seven weeks later, after 21 games without him, DeRozan and the rest of the Raptors are thrilled to have Lowry back in uniform. The three-time All-Star has played in Toronto’s last two games, both victories, as he and the Raptors look to enter the postseason on a positive note. After Sunday’s game against the Knicks, Toronto will close out the regular season on Wednesday against the Cavaliers in Cleveland.
While the Raptors were ecstatic to have Kyle Lowry back after the point guard missed 21 games rehabbing from wrist surgery, the Knicks are dealing with a number of injuries to close the season.
New York recently announced that point guard Derrick Rose would miss the rest of the regular season after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee. Kristaps Porzingis has missed the team’s previous three games because of a sore lower back and forward Lance Thomas has missed the previous nine games. The status of Porzingis and Thomas for Sunday’s game is unknown.
After playing 42 minutes and leading the team with 27 points in his return to the court, Lowry had 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 36 minutes against the Heat. Despite the lower scoring night, his presence aided the Raptors on both ends of the floor.
“He still orchestrated everything,” DeMar DeRozan said. “Defensively, just having his mind and body out there does a lot. A lot of times Kyle don’t have to get it going scoring-wise to will us to a victory. That’s the great thing about him. Teams still gotta respect him while he’s out there. The whole dynamic is still the same if he’s making shots. It’s great just to have him out there.”
Add it to the list
DeMar DeRozan led all scorers in Friday’s win against the Heat, scoring 38 points. It was another night at the office for DeRozan who has had a fantastic year for Toronto. His season averages include career-highs in points (27) and rebounds (5.3) per game. He’s also averaging four assists per contest a number that went up in the 21 games that Kyle Lowry was out.
Friday’s victory was the 31st time this season that DeRozan has topped the 30-point plateau, giving him the franchise record for most 30+ point games in a season. He passed Vince Carter’s mark of 30 which was set during the 2000-01 season.
“I’ve always got to see it on social media or y’all tell me some record,” DeRozan said of not keeping track of individual records during the season. “I never think about it until it gets brought up to me. It’s definitely always a cool accomplishment if you can pass a guy like Vince in anything. That’s definitely great.”